There are four legal ways to draw up a will – in handwriting, in the presence of witnesses, in the presence of an authority (orally before an authorized official such as a judge or a notary), and orally (in the presence of two witnesses).
In the event that the deceased did not leave a will in one of these ways, the Inheritance Law determines the order of precedence for passing the estate on to family members whom are legally termed “heirs according to law”.
Who are the heirs according to law?
The heirs according to law are the spouse of the deceased, his children (including adopted children), grandchildren, his great-grandsons, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents, aunts and uncles and their offsprings.
The spouse of the deceased (who was either married to him or cohabited with him without marriage in a condition that they are not married to others) inherits all the contents of their shared household, including a car.
The rest of the estate is divided in the following manner:
– In the event that the deceased is survived by children, grandchildren or parents, the spouse inherits half of the estate.
– In the event that the deceased is survived only by grandparents, siblings, nieces or nephews, the spouse inherits two-thirds of the estate.
– In the event that the deceased did not leave any of the above-mentioned relatives, the spouse inherits the whole estate.
The estate is divided among the heirs according to law, based on a set order of precedence – children before parents, and parents before grandparents. The children of the deceased inherit in equal portions, and so do parents and grandparents. Thus, for example – if the deceased has been survived by a spouse, three children and a parent, the spouse inherits half of the estate, the second half is divided equally between the children (each receives one sixth of the total estate), and the parent inherits nothing, because the children of the deceased precede his parents as heirs.
Have you killed and also taken possession? People disqualified from inheriting
In two situations the rights of heirs according to law to inherit the estate of the deceased (according to a will or the Inheritance Law) are invalidated:
– A person convicted of murdering or attempting to murder the deceased.
– A person convicted of concealing, destroying or forging the last will of the deceased.
If the deceased forgave the person who had been convicted of an attempt to murder him (in writing or by means of drawing up a will to this person’s benefit after the conviction), his disqualification is cancelled, and he is once again eligible to inherit the deceased
The process of dividing the inheritance
In the event that the deceased did not leave a will, his heirs according to law must file a request for an inheritance order, in order to receive their share of the inheritance. After they do this, the details of the deceased are publicized in a daily newspaper, along with the fact that the heirs have filed a request for an inheritance order. Such advertising makes it possible for an heir according to law who does not appear in the request for an inheritance order, to submit an objection to the procedure to the court. If no such objection is filed, the request for an inheritance order is approved.
If the deceased has left a will, his estate is divided as specified in his will. Heirs listed in the will must apply for a probate. After the application has been filed, any person objecting to what is written in the will can submit his objection to the court with a relevant explanation, such as a claim that the will was drawn up under pressure, blackmail, or some sort of deception, or that the deceased was not in his clear mind at the time the will was drawn up. When discussions regarding the objection are done, a verdict will authorize or invalidate the will.
The State’s right to the inheritance
In the event that the deceased did not leave a will and does not have any heirs according to law (spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces or nephews) the State inherits him.
The estate inherited by the State is designated for purposes of education, health, science and welfare. In addition, the Minister of Finance is allowed to grant part of the estate to an individual who was financially supported by the deceased close to the time of his death; to an individual or a corporation who supported the deceased financially close to his death; or to a family member who is not one of the heirs according to law of the deceased.
For further explanations on the law and its details, see the Eshel website
The information presented in the English website is partial. For full info please visit our Hebrew website