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Under Israeli succession law, if a person leaves the property in Israel, the Israeli courts have jurisdiction over the distribution of that property to the legal heirs, whether or not those heirs are residents of Israel.

Inheritance law in Israel is governed by the Succession Law 1965 (‘Succession Law’). It is a very old and, some say, cumbersome law, but it’s what we have, and we have to live with it. The Israeli courts, known as the Probate Court or the Family Court, have jurisdiction over the estate of any person who was a resident of Israel at the time of his or her death or who left the property in Israel.

The default presumption of Israeli inheritance law is stated in Section Number 1 of the Inheritance & Succession Law, which states that a man’s estate passes on to his heirs upon his death. This includes his fiscal assets, real estate, copyrights, etc.

How are Assets Bequeathed in the Israeli Registrar and Israeli Family Court?

Israeli law stipulates two ways to bequeath assets: by will or by law. If the deceased has left a will in Israel or in any other country, the inheritance will be distributed to the heirs as stipulated in the will. If the deceased hasn’t left a will, the heirs will be those specified by law, according to a clearly designated order of inheritance.

The order of inheritance according to the Israeli law of succession for those who died intestate (without a will) specifies heirs in the following order of priority:

  1. The deceased’s spouse at the time of death. (Note: The surviving spouse is the only relationship mentioned here who isn’t related to the deceased by blood. This may include a common-law spouse);
  2. The deceased’s offspring, including illegitimate and adopted children and their offspring;
  3. The deceased’s parents, grandparents, and their offspring;

The State of Israel inherits the estate in the absence of the aforementioned heirs.

In the case of real estate, the inheritance will be divided equally between the deceased’s spouse and the deceased’s children. In cases where the estate has non-real estate assets like a bank account, stocks, or any other assets or chattels, the widow is entitled by Israeli law of succession to 100% of all non-real estate assets left by the deceased. These heirs take precedence over the parents of the deceased and their offspring, who in turn take precedence over the deceased’s grandparents.

The spouse will inherit the entire estate only if the deceased has NO children, siblings, or parents. Otherwise, the spouse is entitled to half the estate if the deceased is survived by children or parents, and two-thirds if the deceased is survived by only grandparents, siblings, or other relatives. The spouse is also entitled to inherit the deceased’s movable property, including motor vehicles, which were part of the shared household.

It is important to note that Israeli assets belonging to the surviving spouse prior to their marriage are not part of the estate that is to be inherited. Due to the operation of the Spouses (Property Relations) Law 5733 – 1973, the principles of joint ownership of property, or a property relations agreement such as a prenuptial agreement or “Prenup,” may include up to half of the value of the couple’s assets.

The right to maintenance out of an estate is also accorded to the deceased’s children until the age of 18. The court may grant maintenance until a later age in some circumstances, and may also grant maintenance to parents of the deceased who are in need of financial support and were dependent on the deceased before his or her death.

According to section 6 of the Succession Law, an heir may withdraw from inheriting his or her part of the estate, but this may only be done if the estate has not yet been distributed.

Section 6 of the Inheritance law limits the right of withdrawal to an heir to ONLY three groups: siblings, spouse, or parents. So, for example, you cannot withdraw in favor of a nephew or a niece.

Beginning the Process of Inheriting Property in Israel When There is No Will

Efrat, Israel

The succession petition is a valid judicial order under Israeli inheritance law. Like a court order or a decree, it does not suffer obsolescence and can be enforced years following its issuance. The court order does not specify the details of the distribution of assets among the heirs but only decides upon the identity of the heirs and their respective inheritance rights and inheritance tax in Israel.

The petition for a succession decree must be accompanied by a large number of documents. Much of the required paperwork may now be E-filed online. This can save heirs valuable time, energy, and funds.

It is advised to consult a lawyer regarding the exact procedural requirements of the process of requesting an Israeli Succession Order. Where the petition for the order is made by an attorney on behalf of an interested party, it must be accompanied by a Power of Attorney who functions as your proxy and fiduciary.

The Succession Registrar or family court may nullify or amend a Succession Order (or a Probate Order, which is discussed in a separate article). If the order was granted by a court of law, only a court of law may annul or amend it. Any interested party may request to annul a Succession Order; this right is not limited to the estate’s heirs. One of the most common examples of annulment of a Succession Order is when after the order is given it is found that the deceased had in fact left a will. In such a case the Israeli Succession Order may be annulled, and a probate order must be requested in respect of the will.

There is no estate/inheritance/death tax in Israel. However, some non-residents like those residents in the UK may have an estate tax in their domicile above the tax-free bracket of £325,000.

Contact Aharoni Law Firm Today for A Free Consultation

There is no Estate/inheritance Tax for clients from the United States. Residents in Canada, the UK, Europe, and the EU are advised to call us for the exact details. Please contact us from the US or Canada at 888-923-0022 or in Israel at (972) 3.9055478 or (972) 50.7322688 to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your specific situation and how to navigate successfully through the entire probate and estate process.

Our law firm has completed hundreds of probates in Israel on behalf of non-residents — more than any law firm in Israel. Our client reviews speak for themselves.

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.