Canceling an Inheritance Order in Israel

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Canceling an Inheritance Order in Israel

 

Upon a family member’s death, if there is no will, inheritance is determined based on the law, and this can cause quite a stir between heirs and alleged heirs. With a will, there is no question about who gets what. The legal heir(s) simply applies for a probate order from the Inheritance Registrar, which determines and recognizes the validity of the will, and the will is executed. Without a will, the only way the legal heir(s) get their share of the inheritance is through an inheritance order issued either by the inheritance registrar or a family court. 

 

What is an inheritance order?

An inheritance order, also known as a succession order, is a document that names the heirs of the deceased, and their respective share of the estate, as per the Israeli Inheritance Law, 1965. Sometimes, distant relatives or estranged family members could claim that what is stated in the inheritance order is not accurate, or not what the deceased would have wanted. There have also been cases where non-family members, for example, those who cared for the deceased in their last years, have claimed a share of the inheritance. Essentially, anyone who disagrees with the terms of an inheritance order can apply to have it canceled or amended, but this will only happen in one of the following circumstances: 

  • Existence of a will – An applicant may claim that the deceased left a will, but that this was not known or disclosed in the request for the inheritance order. The existence of a will implies that the inheritance order should not have been issued in the first place. Of course, one would have to go through the required process to authenticate this will.
  • Fraudulent request – An applicant may claim that there has been fraud. For example, they may claim that the requestor omitted other relevant heirs who are entitled to their share of the estate. 
  • Lack of authority – An applicant may claim that the court which ruled on an inheritance matter, does not have the authority to do so. A highly compelling illustration of an inheritance order being canceled due to lack of authority is Katz v. Platner (1900/02). In Israel, Rabbinical courts can only rule on inheritance matters like inheritance orders and wills, provided all parties have given their consent. In Katz v. Platner, the Rabbinical Court had decreed a will without the consent of all parties, so, the Supreme Court canceled this will. 
  • Judicial error – If there is a judicial error such as a legal or factual inaccuracy in the order, an applicant must file an appeal rather than request a correction or cancelation. 

 

When can an inheritance order be canceled? 

It could happen that while tidying up, the deceased’s will is discovered, however an inheritance order has already been issued. Is it too late to cancel the inheritance order? The short answer is, no. As long as the order has not yet been granted, any interested party (heir(s), creditors of the estate, creditors of heir(s) etc.) can request to cancel or amend an inheritance order. This applies to the legal conditions listed above as well.

 

What happens after you submit the request?

Once a request to cancel or correct an inheritance order is submitted, the case is transferred to family court, and the fate of this request lies in a simple test. When granting or denying such requests the court considers the sequence of events, asking: Could the applicant have presented the facts or claims before the order was issued?  

 

The court answers this question based on points from the Leshinsky civil case (516/80), and the following guidelines are used:

  1. In general, requests for canceling or correcting an inheritance order will be scarce and not the norm. So, each applicant must establish a significant claim so as to sustain. 
  2. The court will examine how much time has passed between the applicant being aware of the new claims of facts, and the submission of the request. If too much time has passed between the new claims of facts and the request, the applicant will be prevented from bringing up this claim at all. 
  3. The court will examine how much time has passed between issuing the order, and the submission of the request to cancel it.
  4. The degree of harm that the cancelation will cause for each party: when balancing the potential damage of canceling a will, the court will consider other factors such as damage to third parties (for instance, creditors of one of the heirs, etc.) 

 

Beyond this, the court will also take into account the degree of difficulty in examining the facts and claims, the defendant’s ability to defend its position, and other considerations. 

 

If you find yourself in a legal predicament concerning inheritance or succession law in Israel, it is advisable to receive expert counsel, preferably from an estate lawyer or a probate lawyer in Israel who can help you choose the best way forward.

 

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