How to Probate in Israel
Upon the death of an individual in Israel, the fate of his property must be decided through a probate process in Israel. Inheritance is the universal practice of passing on property, as well as rights, obligations, and debts. Although the practice itself appears in some form in all cultures, the rules of inheritance in Israel are subject to the jurisdiction where the deceased died or owned property at the time of his or her death in Israel.
The Succession Law of 1965 in Israel (‘Succession Law’), governs inheritance in Israel. Furthermore, the Israeli courts gain jurisdiction over the estate of any person who at the time of his or her death was a resident of Israel, or who left the property in Israel. Inheritance in Israel may happen again through a probate process in one of two ways: by will or by law – intestate. This article will focus on some key elements regarding inheritance (the probate) by will and mostly the court order of the probate process in Israel.
The fundamental principle of inheritance is that a person is free to distribute his or her property as they see fit. A will is the expression of a person’s wishes regarding his affairs upon his death. Therefore, the Israeli Succession Law is contingent upon the existence of a will. That is to say, a valid will overrides the default stipulations of the law regarding the identity of the heirs and the distribution of the estate. It is a binding legal document incumbent on all parties.
In Israel, a will is not subject to obsolescence, and there is no limitation to the number of wills a person may create. However, it is important to note that the last valid will (chronologically) is the deciding one (in most cases), overriding any former, older wills (unless the ‘new will’ is faulty to the point of unlawfulness as decided by a court of law). It is important to make sure that a will is up to date, especially if any changes, for instance, marriage, divorce, the acquisition of new property etc. have taken place.
An heir or anyone interested in the execution of a will in Israel may bring about its execution only through a Probate court Order that is granted by the Israeli Inheritance Registrar. A Probate court Order declares the validity and the authenticity of an existing will. The Probate court Order validates the content of the will and gives it the same binding legal status as a court judgment. If the will specifies only some of the deceased’s property, the Probate court Order will only be valid regarding the property and financial assets in Israel
The request for a Probate court Order is publicized, usually in the Inheritance Registrar Database of Applications after paying levy, in order to allow for objections to the will to be made. Some take extra precautionary actions and publicize in one of the major printed newspapers. By doing so, he defends himself from potential future adversaries of the will.
A petition for an Israeli Probate court Order must include the following documents:
- Two receipts: proof of payment of the government levy on submitting a petition, from the Postal Bank of Israel.
- A Probate court Order Request petition is signed by the submitter and verified by an attorney, notary, judge, or the head of the local council.
- An original death certificate or a copy faithful to the original. If the deceased passed on in a foreign country an Apostille is needed.
- The original will, or, in case of its absence, a separate request to submit a copy of the original will which includes the reasons why the original will may not be submitted, as well as proof of payment of government levy for the request.
- Notices of serving to all remaining heirs notifying them of the Probate Order petition, including the aforementioned heirs’ signatures or confirmation of delivery of the notices by registered mail.
One who seeks to execute his application in an online form will have to do so alongside an attorney given the signed deposition required by the online submission. After the online submission, the attorney will have to provide within seven days a hard copy of the original will and the approval of the online request to the Inheritance Registrar Bureau, and the aforementioned documents are submitted online.
If the deceased’s place of residence was not Israel, alongside the aforementioned documents, the request must include additional documents, among them: proof of the existence of assets (such as the proof of ownership from a Land Registrar, authorization of active bank account, etc.). All foreign documents must bear the signature of the Israel Consulate in the country in which they were made, as well as a foreign law opinion. Documents in a foreign language (apart from English or Arabic) must be translated into Hebrew and the translations must bear the signature of a notary.
It is advised to consult an estate attorney familiar with Israeli Inheritance Law regarding the exact procedural requirements of the process of requesting a Probate court Order. In the case where an attorney on behalf of an interested party prepares the petition for the order, an original Power of Attorney or a copy faithful to the original must accompany it.
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