Abandoned Israeli Property

inheritance law israel

Claiming Israeli Land or Monies

We assist clients in the multi-faceted release process of reclaiming Israeli land or Israeli bank accounts which are currently managed by the State of Israel. There are over 17,000 known absentee owners, whose Israeli property is managed by the State of Israel. This property is known as “abandoned property.” Unfortunately, these Israeli parcels of land or Israeli inheritances can make the transition from family heirloom to abandoned property very easily.

Within the Administrator General’s office (a part of the Israeli Ministry of Justice), there is a dedicated department that handles these unique cases. It is called the Unit for the Location and Restitution of Unclaimed. This Unit is tasked with locating the families of such absentee owners, and does perform investigative work and genealogy searches in an attempt to find the descendants of the absentee owners. However, with thousands of cases and a relatively small staff, the Unit only reaches a small number of descendants every year. Naturally, land that is not released back to the families of absentee owners eventually can be transferred into the ownership of the State of Israel.

Examples of how your relatives may become absentee owners:

  • Imagine that your Zionistic grandfather was involved with Jewish organizations in the 1920’s or 1930’s. He might have purchased land that was actively marketed to Americans in places like Herzliya, Afula or Migdal. He would have received title work in English, since the British Mandate was governing at that time. But, this grandfather may have passed away without mentioning this land in his Will. Later, other members of the family may have passed away too and the knowledge of the parcel died with them.
  • Perhaps your grandmother, who lived in New York, inherited rights in Israeli real estate from your great- grandmother, who passed away over 50 years ago, in Tel Aviv. The Israeli side of the family may have handled the Israeli probate process for that great grandparent and perhaps your grandmother was notified of this inheritance, but she simply didn’t sign the necessary paperwork or follow up. In a situation like that, the Israeli Courts will issue a probate order stating that the grandmother’s share is held in management by the same Unit that handles more historical abandoned property.
  • The list of absentee owners is provided in Hebrew. Naturally, the list changes as properties are routinely transferred into the State of Israel’s ownership, while others are released to the rightful heirs of absentee owners.