Do Israeli Probate Court Orders Have A Time Limit Or Statute Of Limitations?

Let’s Consider A Case Study

Two siblings inherited property in my hometown Rehovot, Israel. Their father z”l passed away in Florida in the late 1980s with a will and the will was executed and finalized by a probate court order in Israel.

The attorney handling the case dropped the ball and the heirs’ names were not recorded on the title deed aka Tabu the land registry and settlement of rights. The question by the clients was if the decree is still valid after 25 years or not? (Judgments in Israel are not valid after 25 years)

The Answer:

The decree from the ‘80s is valid because it is a declaration decree and therefore not void.

The statute of limitations is a legal concept that refers to the amount of time an individual has to bring a legal claim. In Israel, the statute of limitations for real estate law and probate law is governed by the Israeli Limitation Law of 1958. This law establishes a framework for how long a person has to bring legal action in both these areas of law.

In Israeli probate law, the statute of limitations is also an important concept. When a person passes away, their property and assets are usually distributed according to their will or, if they do not have a will, according to the law of intestacy.

Does an inheritance order expire?

The supreme court in Israel decided about this matter in Razabi Vs Razabi as illustrated below:

האם צו ירושה מתיישן?

בע”א 74/53 רצאבי נ’ רצאבי פ”ד ט 521, 526 – 525 קבע השופט חשין:

(1) בין יורשים לבין עצמם אין התיישנות אלא אם כן מצויה חזקה מנוגדת.

וראת סעיף 21 לחוק ההתיישנות מבחינה בין פסק דין הטעון ביצוע לבין פסק-דין שעפ”י תכנו אינו טעון ביצוע. פסק-דין הטעון ביצוע מתיישן לאחר חלוף 25 שנים ממועד נתינתו. פסק- דין שאינו טעון ביצוע – אינו נתון להתיישנות.

מושכלות ראשונים, שצו ירושה אינו קונסטיטוטיבי אלא דקלרטיבי בלבד.

‎ע”א 171/54 מנהל מס עזבון נ’ גוטליב פ”ד ט 347, 350 ע”א 509/77 עזבון פרלין נ’ מנהל מס שבח פ”ד לב (1) 562. ע”א 513/82 רייזמן נ’ וושצין פ”ד לז (2) 813, 819, 824.
‎מכח סעיף 1 לחוק הירושה, נכס העזבון עובר ליורשים מעת פטירת המוריש ולא משעת מתן צו הירושה או מעת חלוקת העזבון. צו ירושה הוא רק הכרזה פורמלית על הזכות המטריאלית הקיימת מיום

Translation from the Israeli supreme court:

Does an inheritance order expire?

BA 74/53 Ratsavi v. Ratsavi PD 9 521, 526 – 525 Judge Cheshin stated:

(1) Between heirs and themselves there is no statute of limitations unless there is a contrary possession.
The provision of Section 21 of the Limitation Law distinguishes between a judgment that requires execution and a judgment that, according to its content, does not require execution. A judgment that requires execution expires after 25 years have passed from the date of its issuance. A judgment that does not require execution is not subject to a statute of limitations.

First of all, an inheritance order is not constitutive but only declarative.

CA 171/54 Estate Tax Administrator v. Gottlieb PD 9 347, 350 CA 509/77 Estate of Perlin v. Tax Administrator Shobah PD Lev (1) 562. CA 513/82 Reisman v. Washchin PD Lez (2) 813, 819, 824.

According to Section 1 of the Inheritance Law, the property of the estate passes to the heirs upon the death of the testator and not upon the issuance of the inheritance order or upon the distribution of the estate. An inheritance order is only a formal declaration of the material right existing from the date of death.

The statute of limitations is an important concept in Israeli real estate law and probate law. Understanding the time limits for bringing legal claims in these areas is essential for anyone who owns or inherits property in Israel. While there are exceptions to the general rules, it is always best to seek legal advice if you are unsure about your rights and responsibilities under Israeli law.

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