Israeli law provides two avenues for the deceased to bequeath property – one, according to the instructions of the deceased’s will. The other is by inheritance in accordance with the Law of Succession, 1965.
Inheritance by Action of Law
In cases where there is no will or the will is held to be void by the court, the deceased’s property passes according to provisions of the Law of Succession. The law establishes a hierarchical order of beneficiaries of a testator’s estate. If the deceased left behind children or descendants or parents – the spouse receives half of the estate. If the deceased is survived by siblings or their offspring or grandparents – the spouse inherits two-thirds of the estate, provided that if in the eve of the deceased’s death, the couple had been married three years or more and lived together in the apartment included in the estate at the time of the decedent’s death, the spouse shall inherit the entirety of the deceased’s share in the apartment, and the two-thirds of the rest of the estate. If the decedent is not survived by any family members such as those described above, the spouse inherits the entire estate. The law also sets an order of preference according to which the children of the deceased take precedence over his parents, and parents take precedence over parents of parents.
An interesting point is that one who has been legally adopted inherits as if he were the decedent’s child and the decedent was his biological parent. It should be emphasized that the absence of an heir, the entire estate will escheat to the state. It commonly occurs that an elderly individual ends up leaving substantial property to the state, without his/her consent. In such cases, many elderly bequeath their property to the person who was closest to him/her when on their deathbed – often the decedent’s nurse or caretaker.
When a person who is married and has children passes away, the children usually wish to transfer all the property of the deceased to the remaining parent – when such parent is the spouse of the deceased. The law provides a tool called “withdrawal from inheritance.” After the death of the testator and as long as the estate has not been distributed, an heir is entitled, by written notice, to waive his share in the estate in favor of the spouse, child or sibling of the deceased. In practice, the petition is submitted together with the children’s’ affidavits of withdrawal in favor of their surviving parent to the Inheritance Registrar.
Adopted Children – It should be noted also that adopted children are entitled to inherit from both their adoptive parents as well as their biological parents. It should be noted that on August 01, 2010, a ruling by Family Court held that an adopted child whose adoption process was not properly executed, meaning that the adoption is not completed, is not entitled to inherit from his/her adoptive parents but rather only from his/her biological parents.