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What is the Law of Inheritance? What does it state?
An inheritance and wills lawyer can help us a lot in understanding the Inheritance Law which is a multi-section law, regulations and case law, which deal with wills, inheritances and estates. The law allows each person to determine, according to his free will, the division of his estate after his death in the will document. To facilitate the procedure, the law allows each person to make his will both independently and at no cost.
The Inheritance Law sets out various principles to ensure that the will is made entirely of the free and true will of the testator, without any influence or pressure from external parties and without any obligation on the part of the testator.
The law further stipulates that a person may choose the language in which the document will be made, as long as it complies with the basic rules of the validity of the will.
The Inheritance Law is an in-depth document that encompasses in its sections all the issues to which the writing of a will relates. In order to create a legal, proper and optimal will, one must be knowledgeable in all the sections of the law and therefore it is advisable to consult an expert wills lawyer.
Who is allowed to make a will?
Each person is free to decide whether he wants to make a will and whether he chooses to do so – and what kind it will be.
In specific cases that are detailed below – the following persons are prohibited from making a will):
- Those legally incapacitated
- A person with a mental or intellectual disability – that is, a person who, due to a certain disability, is not aware of the significance of making a will.
Advocate for Wills and Inheritances Rachel Shachar explains what is recommended to do if there is concern about the degree of clarity of the testator:
“If the testator fears that it may be claimed that he was not clear-minded when drafting the will, it is advisable that he contact a medical factor indicating his capacity to make a will, close to the time of drafting the will. I also recommend that older people or patients who are interested in making a will, to obtain a medical opinion that indicates their capacity to make a will on their own initiative”.
It should be noted that the degree of clarity and understanding of the meanings can also be challenged in retrospect – provisions that do not make sense in a person’s will can raise doubts about his or her capacity status at the time of writing. For this reason and many more, it is recommended that a wills lawyer be involved in the proceedings, as he will be able to save the mental anguish and instructions given to illogical interpretation.
What is the role of a wills attorney?
A wills and inheritance lawyer has a number of key focal points in wills proceedings in which his presence is critical. We will explain them briefly:
- Objections to the will
A well-known phenomenon is the opposition of a person who was excluded from the will and his uncompromising attempt to find flaws in it in order to invalidate it. Such a person will immediately reach out to a wills lawyer who will help him in that search. If the will is made with a professional wills lawyer, the chances of disqualifying it are significantly lower, as the lawyer is aware of all the possible loopholes that the wording of the will can create. Because of this, a professional lawyer knows how to protect a will from future objections in the best way, which a citizen does not know how to perform alone.
- Focus on what matters
Many people start to write their will independently as they are confident in their will and written abilities and they do produce a spectacular document. But when it comes to executing a will, the content is examined and the essence of the provisions in it, and therefore it is not sufficient to use a sample wording from the internet. A wills lawyer is needed for the will to be yours.
- Legality of the will
A wills lawyer who specializes in writing and drafting custom wills is one who is familiar with all the rules and clauses in the field. With the advice of a wills lawyer, you can be assured that the document will be legal and meet all the basic conditions and rules set by the Inheritance Act and other laws.
Why do you need a will?
The will is in other words our last words to be heard – our requests, our attitude, and even our feelings. This is the last imprint of many of us on our environment and family, and the desire to make this event meaningful – understandable and self-evident. Making a will makes it possible to be sure that after the testator’s death, his property will be divided and managed exactly according to his will.
In addition to property, the will is also a document that invites the testator to convey a personal message that is not legally valid, and it is in matters of feelings, values, etc. that he asks that they be remembered and passed on. Some people choose to express their attitude by dividing their estate differently among the heirs and even donating part of their estate to various associations and organizations that reflect the mindset in which they advocated.
In what special cases is it advisable to make a will with a lawyer?
Adv. Rachel Shachar points out that there are special cases in which it is more recommended than usual to make a will:
“When it comes to a certain marital or family status such as – publicly known, an adult couple without children, a married couple with children from a previous marriage, etc. – it is advisable to make a will accompanied by an expert wills lawyer to avoid possible disputes and misunderstandings that further obscure the loss of the testator.”
In addition, in cases where the Inheritance Law does not regulate the rights of the heirs or in cases where the testator does not want his estate to be divided according to the default in the law – splitting inheritance or rights to use property – it is recommended to make a will.
What happens to the estate of a deceased person who did not write a will?
The Law of Inheritance prescribes the manner in which the estate of a person who has not made a will in his life be inherited. The legislature set these rules of succession so that they would be as similar as possible to the will of people who would like to divide their property after their death. The heirs by law are the family members left by the deceased, depending on the degree of family closeness:
- Children of the testator – or their descendants if they have died.
- The testator’s parents – in case the deceased did not leave children.
- Parents of the testator’s parents (grandparents) – in case the deceased did not leave a spouse, parents or siblings.
In order to exercise the right of inheritance, an application for an inheritance order must be submitted. If the deceased has no family members left of any of those specified, his assets pass to state ownership.
What types of wills exist in the State of Israel?
The law sets out 4 possible ways in which a person can make a will so that it has binding legal force:
- Handwritten will
- Will with witnesses
- Will before an authority
- Oral will.
Each will has its own emphases and each person is entitled to choose among them. Care must be taken to adhere to the basic rules of each one, so that the will is legal and enforceable. We will expand on each of them and note that a will with witnesses is the most popular and recommended.
Will with witnesses
This will is usually made with the assistance of a lawyer and its basic conditions under the Inheritance Act are:
- Two more witnesses, besides the testator himself.
- A will written as a document (printed or written)
Who are the witnesses? What is their role?
The role of the witnesses and the manner in which the function is performed constitute a critical issue that has implications for the validity of the will and its ability to be executed. The witnesses are the same two people who witness the making of the will by the testator and hence their name – witnesses to the existence of the will. This is not a symbolic role but an active role that requires signing the document itself.
The witnesses are not responsible for verifying the testator’s suitability for drafting his will, but they must be evidence that he is indeed the one who drafted and signed it. Until the execution of a will, one must be aware of the content of the will and be sure that the testator understands it as well.
The testimony of the witnesses about the existence of the will may serve as a significant tool for clarifying the circumstances of the making of the will in court, and even lead to the disqualification of the entire will, if it turns out that they did not perform their duties properly.
If the witnesses of the will were not present at the time of drafting or signing it, it lacks a basic element: the witnessing and therefore the will is invalid.
In the event that the witnesses of the will were present at its drafting but not at the time of signing it – the court can be convinced, in a clarification procedure, that this is a true will and that the reason for the absence of the witnesses’ signature is valid.
A witness in a will cannot have any interest in the will.
Anyone seeking to make a handwritten will independently may do so although it is advisable to make a will with a layer. Data from the courts in Israel show that we are a people who like to sue for every cause and reason and therefore a will is required that is closed from all directions. The basic conditions of this type of will are as follows:
- The will must be written entirely in the handwriting of the testator. Do not print.
- The will must include a date.
- The will must be signed by the testator.
This is the “easiest” will to make and accordingly, it is the “easiest” will to oppose, as it does not include witnesses and it is easier to challenge its authenticity and the fitness of the testator at the time of writing.
Will before an authority
A will before an authority is a will that is submitted to a legal entity or is made through it. This person can be a judge, a member of a religious court, a registrar for inheritance matters, a court registrar or a notary.
Such a will can be made in writing and submitted to one of the above parties, or the contents of the will can be made available to the party so that he will register it.
The law allows a person who is unable to make his will in one of the three previous ways, to make his will orally. The person who is allowed to make his will orally is a person who is on his deathbed, and he can present his will to at least two witnesses who understand him (with an emphasis on understanding the language he speaks). He is not obliged to make his will as a written document due to the said circumstances.
The law also allows a person who is in danger of death to choose such a will.
The witnesses who hear an oral will must write down the words of the testator as accurately as possible in the memory of things, as quickly as possible.
It should be noted that given that a month has passed since the words of the will were uttered, and the testator remains alive, his oral will is revoked. Another important difference from the other types of wills, is that the witnesses can have an interest, since no person chooses the terms of his departure.
Why is it important to pay attention when making a will?
Adv. Shachar lists a number of important emphases for drafting a will:
- The language of the will must be clear and logical, in order to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible regarding the intentions of the testator.
- The details identifying the heirs and the details identifying the estate, should be accurate and clear.
- A person specified in the will as the heir / beneficiary, cannot attend or be part of the process of drafting the will.
- Conditions appearing in the will must be legal, reasonable and well-founded to prevent their annulment by a court.
There are many more emphases and explanations for writing a legal and proper will, and therefore we strongly recommend that you seek the help of a professional and experienced wills lawyer.
Defects in a will can usually be corrected and be made valid, since the court recognizes the possible errors that this procedure entails and the purpose of the legislature is first and foremost to try and fulfill the will of the testator. Clear errors such as omission of a number / writing error / lack of date in written wills, etc. – are correctable and understandable.
However, there are cases where a defect in the will can invalidate it altogether or cause the section to be revoked from the will. The court may revoke provisions of the will on the following grounds: vague instruction / impossible order to execute / illegal or immoral instruction / instruction that serves the interest of any of the participants in the writing process.
If the revocation of the order resulted in the revocation of the entire will, the inheritance will be divided among the legal heirs, according to the rules set forth in the Inheritance Law.
Interpretation of a will
The purpose of a procedure for the interpretation of a will is to understand from the document the true intentions of the testator. When the will includes content that is not unequivocal, the judge may request to look at the external circumstances of the case.
Adv. Rachel Shachar explains how to interpret a will if necessary:
“In cases where the content of the will (” the language of the will “) can be interpreted in several ways, the most important rule is to interpret the will according to the intention and will of the testator, as it is implied by the circumstances. Only when the intent of the testator is not clear from the will itself, do we turn to external circumstances that can help interpret it. ” “
From here that the drafting of the will and its best wording are very important, and therefore we recommend the assistance of an expert wills and inheritance lawyer.
Who is an invalid heir?
An invalid heir is a person who by law, is prohibited from inheriting due to one of the following conditions:
- A criminal convicted of involvement in the death of the testator or in an attempt to cause his death, may not inherit from him even if mentioned in the will.
- A criminal convicted of involvement in the hiding of the last will of the testator, forgery of his will and attempted claim of a false will, cannot inherit and his share cannot pass to his own heirs.
- If one of the heirs is a minor, incompetent or mentally handicapped who may impair his ability to manage his property in a way that is beneficial to him, it is advisable to appoint a trustee for his share in the estate.
If there are no other heirs – his share passes to state ownership.
As a rule, apart from invalid heirs, anyone can inherit as well as various organizations like associations, states and so on.
Opposition to the will and its disqualification
An objection to a will is a procedure in which a person claims that the will should not be kept or that no order should be issued for the execution of a will, because he believes that it is invalid. Most often, the causes presented in this procedure are unfair influence, legal incompetence of the testator when drafting the will, or stakeholder involvement in drafting it. Contacting a lawyer will help you build the right strategy to protect the will.
In the case of an objection to the execution of a will, the basic conditions are examined first, then defects in the form, and finally the circumstances of its drafting. At the end of the above tests, the reason to filed for opposition will be chosen.
In the State of Israel, the disqualification of a will begins with the filing of an objection to the execution of a will, to be heard in the Family Court. The procedure is possible as long as the following conditions are met:
- An application was submitted for an inheritance order and a notice was published in the press and in the records.
- An inheritance order has not yet been issued.
Protection of a will from opposition
We asked attorney Rachel Shachar: who should be most afraid of opposition and act ahead of time in order to protect his will from an opposition procedure?
“Protecting a will is like protecting the property contained in it and those involved in it, as it is a procedure designed to deprive them of their right to inherit. There are cases where the chances of objections are higher and they usually result from more complex family status – common law couples, divorced or separated, families consisting of chapters B, etc. “
A will is not a simple document to write and execute and should not be taken lightly. Those making light of it end up having their intentions being considered lightly after their death.
Revocation of a will
The testator may revoke his will made before witnesses in the same manner in which he made it, in accordance with the provision of section 36 of the Inheritance Act, that is, by drafting a revocation notice before two witnesses or by drafting a new will before two witnesses revoking the previous will.
Any person who has made a will, may revoke it, at any time and for any reason in one of the following ways:
- Destruction of the document – shredding, burning or tearing.
- Writing a new will that cancels the previous one.
- Giving notice of cancellation in the same ways in which a will can be made.
If a person has revoked a will and has not made a new will, the inheritance will be divided among his heirs in accordance with the rules set out in the Inheritance Law.
How to choose an inheritance attorney?
Choose your lawyer according to three simple but important emphases:
- Areas of Practice
Depending on the estate you leave, it is advisable that your lawyer be knowledgeable about your property matters – a real estate lawyer if you have extensive holdings, a lawyer who specializes in tax and donations if you want to donate part of your estate, etc.
The will procedure is complex professionally but also personally, and therefore you will want a professional and attentive lawyer by your side who will allow you to deal with the issue of the will more easily. Therefore, we recommend using the reviews of other clients in order to get a clearer picture of who is the person standing in front of you.
Check your lawyer’s approach before contacting him, check what he wrote on his website about wills, read about his experience and the “I believe” of him and the firm. If you are impressed, schedule a non-binding consultation that can dispel any doubts about the initial impression you received from the Internet.
In choosing a will lawyer what should you do?
There can be no dispute that a will lawyer will accompany you through a procedure that is both emotionally and professionally complex. One of the things I recommend my clients to do is read testimonials on the Google Network about a will lawyer that you are interested in consulting. The Google Network publishes client reviews only if the client has an account identified by Google, so you can know that the review is authentic.
Only after you have selected a number of lawyers who seem to be able to handle the case, is it advisable to first go to the lawyer’s website and read what he wrote about will matters. Finally, make sure that you call and schedule a consultation, so that you can be directly impressed by the inheritance and wills lawyer of both his 808personal and professional abilities.
Adv. Rachel Shachar is a will attorney who specializes in will matters, opposition to a will, and representation in material inheritance disputes. You are welcome to contact the firm for coordination for appropriate legal advice or representation. Phone +972-3-7949755.
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