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.
However, even in cases where there is a will, there can be a number of situations where even though a will exists, there are objections to the will and it may be challenged: you wish to contest the will or file a formal objection either to specific contents of the will or to the entire legality of the will.
Who Can Challenge/Contest a Will in Israel?
- Any beneficiary named in the will;
- A beneficiary/beneficiaries who may have been listed in an earlier version of a will but have been excluded from a more recent version of the will;
- Any other potential heirs by Israeli Succession law. This can mean anyone who has a right to inherit the testator’s assets under Israel’s intestacy laws. This usually includes the spouse and may also include other relatives including 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.
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.;
- 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. 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.
- 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. In any of these cases, a will may be challenged.
- 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;
- Objections on Estate Administration: The executor is responsible to ensure 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 have valid grounds to object to the contents of a will beyond these common arguments.
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 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 it will proceed to Probate & Family Court, and you and your attorney will have to appear in court to argue your claim/s against the will.
Note: The US or any foreign will can be enforced in Israel and is valid if it meets all the requirements of legality.
Israeli family Courts have long ruled that as long as a person´s desire and sanity can be proven, no technical objections to a will can be accepted. Also, a will is valid in Israel if it is valid under 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.
The basic law applies no matter what has been done with the old will or where it is stored. If there is a more recent will signed by the testator, and it is legal and has been signed in the presence of witnesses, the old one is no longer valid.
If the estate has already been distributed, the will may still be contested. Although it may be technically possible to contest a will after the estate has been distributed, this may be very difficult to achieve by the limitations of the law and almost impossible.
And remember to file your objection to the will within fourteen days of its publication in the Legal Notices section of any published newspaper.
Israel inheritance law is complicated and esoteric. If there was 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.
We can help you get what you deserve. We areIsraeli property disputes located in Tel Aviv with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Germany, and Florida. We invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation with our firm to discuss how we can solve your Israeli estate matters successfully.
We submit and manage probate petitions and objections to wills to the Israeli courts and we represent international clients from the United States, Canada, the UK, Europe, and Israel. Please contact us in the US or Canada at 888-923-0022 or in Israel at (972) 3.9055478 or (972) 50.7322688 to schedule a discussion regarding the specifics of your case.
FAQ: Objecting to an Israeli Will
Q: Can I file an Objection to an Israeli will online?
A: Yes, you can file an objection electronically.
Q: What other documents must be filed with an objection to a will?
A: 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.
Q: How long will it take for the process to begin?
A: After you’ve filed the objection and the affidavit, you can expect a pre-trial hearing within about 2 -3 months of filing