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Contesting a Will in Israeli Court

In Israel, as in most other countries, you can bequeath your worldly assets to specifically named relatives/heirs who will receive those assets when you leave this world.

Under Israeli inheritance law – the Law of Succession – your assets will be distributed to your heirs whether or not you have a will. It’s crucial to understand this law, as it forms the basis of how your assets will be distributed after your passing.

However, even in cases where there is a will, the process can be complex. There can be a number of situations where, despite the existence of a will, there are objections to its contents or its legality. In such cases, you may wish to contest the will or file a formal objection, requiring professional guidance to navigate the intricacies of the legal system.

Understanding the Eligibility to Challenge or Contest a Will in Israel

  • Any beneficiary named in the will;
  • Beneficiaries who were once listed in an earlier version of the will, but have been excluded from a more recent version, may face a potential loss of their inheritance;
  • Under Israeli Succession law, any other potential heir could contest the will. This includes individuals who have a right to inherit the testator’s assets under Israel’s intestacy laws. Such potential heirs usually encompass the spouse and may also include other relatives such as children, siblings, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and other relatives.

On What Grounds Can an Israeli Will Be Challenged?

There may be a number of valid reasons to legally contest or object to a will in Israel. It’s crucial to understand these grounds, as they can empower you in your legal matters.

Allegations of undue influence by another party: if it can be proven that someone exerted undue influence on the testator, a will can be contested. This person may be a relative, a caregiver, a medical professional, a financial services professional, or anybody who may have had the opportunity to influence the testator. Undue influence could include instances where the influencer manipulated the testator’s decisions, coerced them into making certain provisions, or took advantage of their vulnerable state.

  • Lack of mental capacity of the testator of the will: When a testator draws up a will, he/she states that they are of sound mind at the time of writing. If it can be proven that the testator was not of sound mind at the time, the will may be contested. This is a legal process, and reasons for mental incompetence may be dementia due to age, Alzheimer’s disease, Bipolar Disorder, or any other situation where the testator was not mentally competent at the time (possibly due to medication or some other reason).
  • Abuse of power of attorney: The attorney/agent who handles a will on behalf of the testator operates under a Power of Attorney agreement. If it can be proven that the attorney abused his power, you can object to the will. This can be done by gathering evidence of the attorney’s actions, such as financial records or witness testimonies, and presenting them in court;
  • Fraud: For a will to be legal, it must be duly signed by the testator and must be witnessed by qualified witnesses. There must be no blank spaces, beneficiaries have to be named, and there can be no alterations/changes that were made afterward. These are serious issues, and in any of these cases, a will may be challenged, potentially altering the distribution of the estate.
  • Legality/Formality: The will must be drawn up in accordance with Israeli Succession law. If it has not been created legally, it may be contested/challenged. This could result in the will being declared invalid and the estate being distributed according to the laws of intestacy;
  • Objections on Estate Administration: The executor is responsible for ensuring that the testator’s assets have been managed and distributed according to the testator’s wishes. This is a position of trust, and unfortunately, this trust can be abused.

There may also be a number of other arguments or reasons where heirs/beneficiaries, like yourself, have valid grounds to object to the contents of a will beyond these common arguments. Your role in this process is crucial, and your objections can significantly impact the outcome.

Formally Objecting to an Israeli Will

To legally contest/object to a will, it is not enough to complain that your brother shouldn’t have been given a dad’s boat. Under Israeli inheritance law, you must file an official objection to the legal notice within fourteen days of the publishing of the notice in the Legal Notices section of a newspaper. You must file with the registrar, and the case will proceed to Probate & Family Court, where your attorney will play a crucial role in presenting it. You and your attorney will have to appear in court to argue your claim/s against the will.

Rest assured, a US or any foreign will can be enforced in Israel and is valid if it meets all the requirements of legality. This acceptance of foreign wills in Israel provides a sense of security and peace of mind.

Israeli family Courts have consistently upheld a principle that respects and protects a person´s desire and sanity. They have ruled that no technical objections to a will can be accepted if these aspects are proven. This principle is a cornerstone of will enforcement in Israel, where a will is also deemed valid if it meets the requirements of Israeli estate law, the local law in the jurisdiction where the will was prepared, the deceased´s domicile law, or the law of the deceased´s citizenship when he/she prepared the will or at the time of his/her death.

Additional Grounds for Contesting a Will in Israel

In addition to the legal grounds stated herein for contesting a will in Israel, there may be other grounds to contest a will. Sometimes a second will is found. This may be a handwritten will, or any other will found after the first one was made. If you have been specified as an heir in one of the wills but your name has been omitted from one of the wills, you have grounds to contest the will as presented to the court. Under Israeli probate law, a new will overrides an old will. This means that even if you were initially left out, there is a chance for your rightful inheritance to be recognized.

The fundamental law applies no matter what has been done with the old will or where it is stored. If a more recent will signed by the testator is legal and has been signed in the presence of witnesses, the old one is no longer valid.

Even if the estate has already been distributed, there may still be a possibility to contest the will. While it’s technically feasible to contest a will after the estate has been distributed, it’s important to note that this can be very challenging due to the limitations of the law and is often considered almost impossible.

Remember to file your objection to the will within fourteen days of publication in any published newspaper’s Legal Notices section. Acting promptly is crucial in these cases, as it can significantly impact the outcome of your claim.

Israel’s inheritance law is complicated and esoteric. If there is no will, the assets of a deceased person will be distributed by the courts according to Israel’s laws of inheritance by succession. If there was a will, it must be legal and duly processed. If there is a problem with a will and you wish to formally object to the will, you need the services of a very experienced Israeli lawyer who understands the intricacies of Israeli inheritance law and knows their way around the Israeli court’s system. We are highly experienced in contesting Israeli wills and navigating Israeli inheritance laws. With our guidance, you can navigate the complexities of the legal system and stand a better chance of achieving a fair outcome.

Contact Aharoni Law Firm Today For A Free Consultation

We value your interest in our services. As a token of our appreciation, we offer a complimentary consultation. We are an Israeli property disputes firm located in Tel Aviv, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Florida. We look forward to discussing how we can successfully solve your Israeli estate matters.

As an internationally recognized firm, we are adept at submitting and managing probate petitions and objections to wills in the Israeli courts. We proudly represent clients from the United States, Canada, the UK, Europe, and Israel. To discuss the specifics of your case, please contact us in the US or Canada at 888-923-0022 or in Israel at (972) 3.9055478 or (972) 50.7322688.

FAQs: Objecting to an Israeli Will

Can I file an Objection to an Israeli will online?

Yes, you can file an objection electronically.

What other documents must be filed with an objection to a will?

In addition to the filing of the objection, you must also simultaneously file an Affidavit with good arguments and you must pay a state fee of 980 NIS.

How long will it take for the process to begin?

After you’ve filed the objection and the affidavit, you can expect a pre-trial hearing within about 2 -3 months of filing.

View all Frequently Asked Questions.

Rahav D. Aharoni, Adv

My expertise lies in assisting heirs and clients in the identification and acquisition of inherited assets in Israel, resolving estate and real estate conflicts, and facilitating transactions involving Israeli real estate, investments, and businesses. I am dedicated to helping my clients build equity and achieve their goals.