Israeli Inheritance for Americans 101

This is a guide to the Israeli inheritance process for those of you in the US or anywhere else outside of Israel, who have inherited Israeli property, whether an Israeli apartment or an Israeli bank account.

First things first: the Israeli Land Registry and Israeli banks will not transfer your relative’s Israeli property based on probate orders from the US. Israeli law mandates that an Israeli estate must be probated through the Israeli probate system. For this same reason, you may not be the Israeli executor or Israeli personal representative, even if you are named as such in your relative’s US Will. Israeli executors must be court appointed and aren’t typically needed in most probate matters, while the concept of an Israeli personal representative doesn’t exist at all!

If your relative left you Israeli real estate or an Israeli bank account you’ll need an Israeli probate order to transfer ownership of your inherited property.

So how do you get the necessary Israeli probate order?

I can help you with the paperwork to file an Israeli probate petition. We’ll meet via Zoom and you can send me all the paperwork by Fedex or email.

Here’s a typical Israeli probate process for a relative that passed away in the US or UK:

Israeli Probate Application:

  1. Engage our office and sign a power of attorney, which is necessary to represent you before the Israeli Court and Israeli government offices.
  2. Establish whether your relative left a Will or not.
  3. If there is a Will, establish whether the original can be submitted to the Israeli Court, or whether it will be necessary to submit a Motion to authorize a photocopy of a Will. Keep in mind that “true copies” from US Courts (known as “exemplified Wills”) are considered photocopies under Israeli law. These copies can certainly be filed for probate in Israel, though some additional time and work are involved.
  4. If your relative didn’t leave a Will, the process is virtually the same, but the heirs are determined according to the Israeli law on intestacy.
  5. You’ll need to provide our office with an Apostilled death certificate and other various other documents, depending on the facts in the case.
  6. Israeli law requires a “legal opinion on foreign law,” which addresses the question of whether the law where your relative passed away applies to the case or whether Israeli law will apply. In matters of Israeli real estate, Israeli law will apply as the law of the situs.
  7. Once all the documents are assembled, the probate petition can be signed and filed with the Israeli Registrar of Probate.

 

Israeli Probate – The Registrar and Family Court

The Israeli Registrar of Probate reviews the documents and transfers the files to the Israeli Family Court (though sometimes they request additional documentation).

  1. The Family Court issues a new file number, assigning a Judge to the case.
  2. The documents are shared with the Administrator General’s office (AG – a department of the Ministry of Justice). The AG serves as a “formal respondent” in all probate matters. The lawyers in the AG’s office review the matter and often ask for clarifications or additional documents.
  3. The rest of the process is dependent on the Judge/AG’s office and the facts of each case.
  4. The process can take anywhere from 6 months to 18 months and complex cases can take even longer.
  5. Transferring title at the Israeli Land Registry and transferring funds from Israeli bank accounts is a SEPARATE process that begins after you have the Israeli probate order in hand.