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Succession Order in Israel
Succession is the process of transferring the estate (property) of a deceased person to their heirs by law or by will. Article 66a of Israeli succession law explain the legal origin of the order of succession:
“Succession Registrar may declare the rights of heirs’ succession according to law by a Succession Order…”.
This means that, in cases where the deceased didn’t leave a proper will, succession order is applicable. In order for heirs to claim and exercise their succession rights, they have to apply for a succession order. This is a legal injunction from the succession registrar containing details about the deceased person, his or her time of death, the names of his or her heirs, and each heir’s relative share to the estate.
This order functions like a final and binding verdict, stating to the general public who the deceased’s heirs are and what each of their shares to the estate is. However, it doesn’t specify the details of the succession, such as the volume of the deceased’s assets and property.
A succession order is necessary and crucial to carry out actions related to the deceased’s assets. Heirs can appeal to various entities such as the DMV and land registrar to perform a transfer of ownership of land or vehicles only after the succession order is issued.
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Succession by Law
As mentioned above, the order of succession and identity of heirs can be determined in two ways.
The first option is the deceased’s will. In the absence of a will, the succession will be transferred to the heirs in accordance with kinship circuits determined by the second chapter of the succession law.
Article 10 of the succession law states that the heirs according to law are:
(1) A person who was the deceased’s spouse at the time of death.
(2) Children of the deceased and their descendants, parents of the deceased and their descendants, grandparents of the parents of the deceased and their descendants
The determination of heir identity is based on the existence of blood kinship of three proximity circuits, or patrilines. From closest to most distant, these are children, parents, and grandparents. Each circuit also includes the descendants of the party. The only exception to the blood kinship guideline is the spouse, whose succession rights are determined in Article 11, and adopted children, who are considered to be the child of the deceased in all respects under Section 16. As soon as an heir is found in one circuit, there’s no need to continue to the next circuit. That means that if there is an heir in the first circuit (children or grandchildren), then the next circuit (parents and descendants) is blocked from the inheritance.
The share of a spouse is determined by a number of principles:
The spouse’s share is determined according to the type of relatives that he or she faces and varies depending on the kinship circuits as described below.
According to Article 11a, the spouse will always be entitled to movable property and the common household vehicle.
If the couple was married and lived for at least three years in an apartment that now belongs fully or partially to the estate, the spouse is entitled to the deceased’s part of the apartment.
Inheritance Rights in Israel
Below is an explanation of the three circuits, which determine the spouse’s share of the estate.
First Circuit – Descendants (Children/Grandchildren):
If the deceased has children or grandchildren, they are entitled to the entire estate. The division between them shall be in equal parts.
If there is a spouse, the estate will be equally divided between him or her and the first circuit heirs.
Second Circuit – Parents and Their Descendants:
In the event that no first circuit heir is found, the law examines the second circuit, which includes the deceased’s parents and siblings.
The estate will be divided equally between the parents of the deceased, and if they are no longer among the living, their shares will be distributed equally among the parent’s descendants.
If there is a spouse and the deceased’s parents are living, the estate will be divided equally between the spouse and the deceased’s parents.
In the event that the heirs are the deceased’s siblings, the spouse will receive 2/3 of the estate and the siblings 1/3.
Third Circuit – Parents of Parents and their Descendants:
Similarly to the second circuit, the deceased’s estate is divided between the four grandparents. If one of them is no longer among the living, his or her share will be transferred to his or her descendants.
In this case, the spouse is entitled to 2/3 of the estate and the descendants to 1/3.
State’s Succession Rights
Article 17 of Israeli succession law states that in a situation when there are no heirs by the law found in any of the three circuits, the State of Israel is entitled to the inheritance.
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