How to Get Your Israeli Inheritance Step by Step

Inheritance is the transfer of property, monies, assets, rights and debts to heirs (or beneficiaries) after death.

Unlike the movies, where the family gathers in a wood paneled office for a formal will reading, the transfer of your Israeli inheritance is far more understated and about following procedure.

The first thing to ascertain is whether your relative left a Will or whether the inheritance is “intestate.” Intestate means that the person who passed away did not leave a Will, and in the absence of a Will, Israeli law will decide on how to divide the property.

In both scenarios, you’ll need an English-speaking Israeli lawyer, such as our office, to assist you with submitting the appropriate petition to the Israeli Registrar of Probate:

If there is a Will – we submit a Petition to Validate a Will

If there is no Will – Intestate – we submit a Petition for a Probate Order

Here are the steps that we take to help you get your Israeli inheritance:

Step 1: Determine if there is a Will

Step 2: Submit either a Petition for Probate (Intestate) or a Petition to Validate a Will

The process of filing these petitions requires gathering information, signing various documents, and sending notices to all of the beneficiaries under the Will, or if the matter is intestate, to all of the heirs under Israeli law. On a practical level, only one heir or beneficiary needs to sign the relevant paperwork, but all of the heirs/beneficiaries must be informed of the process.

Step 3: Fulfill requirements of Family Court

Although the Petition is filed with the Registrar of Probate, if the relative that passed away lived outside of Israel (but owned an apartment or had a bank account in Israel), the Petition is transferred to the Israeli Family Court. In these matters, the Family Court often requests additional documents. For example, when we probate a lengthy will in English, the Court may require a notarized translation into Hebrew. This is at the Court’s discretion. More importantly, if the Will stipulated that a condition be met prior to distribution to the family, such as gifts to charities, the Court may require proof that these conditions were met, before validating the Will.

Step 4: Distribution of assets – Israeli banks – After the Family Court issues the Israeli Probate Order/Validation of Will Order, the court order must be sent to Israeli banks. However, it’s important to understand that Israeli banks have their own procedures and often the distribution of funds, even after the issuance of the probate order, can take months. In particular, when we deal with Wills written outside of Israel that do not contain identification numbers, our clients are faced with filing additional documents to prove their identities and family relationships.

Israeli real estate: After the Family Court issues the Israeli Probate Order/Validation of Will Order, the order must be sent to the Israeli Land Registry. Here too, there will be a process to complete before the real estate can be titled in the names of the heirs/beneficiaries.

Step 5: Selling Inherited Real Estate: Once the title has been transferred into your name, you are free to sell the property. Naturally, if you’ve inherited with three siblings, you’d have to agree on the method, timing and price.

Let me clarify that Israel does not have an estate tax; however, even though Israeli doesn’t impose an estate tax per se, you may well still have tax implications when selling inherited Israeli real estate (capital gains, for example), or possibly tax implications in other countries, where you must report your income. We will always refer you to tax experts to review your tax circumstances.

Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you get your Israeli inheritance.