Everyone has some interaction with inheritance matters at least once in his lifetime, either as a benefactor or a beneficiary. Inheritance law and all its regulations relate mainly to the two main aspects of this field – the bequeathing and the inheriting. The laws relating to the bequeather address all the aspects of preparing a will, the right to bequeath and the identities of the beneficiaries.
The laws relating to the heirs address the identity of the legal heirs, the validity of the will and the management of the estate.
Preparing a will
A will is a powerful tool that enables a person to control certain aspects of life even after his death. This control can be on the simple level of determining the identity of his heirs, and can be complex to the point of determining another person’s lifestyle, like a long arm reaching out from the grave.
In addition to these controlling instructions, such as the conditions for inheriting, the obligation to execute certain actions or maintain a certain lifestyle as a condition for receiving the inheritance, a testator can include broad instructions for realizing the testator’s ideas and protecting the will itself from being challenged.
Tax planning in Israeli wills
In many cases there are several things a testator can do to alleviate anticipated tax obligations. These include establishing trusts, leaving instructions that will enable the heirs to avoid paying tax on the inheritance and by transferring property to others.
Challenging a will in Israel
The most common proceedings in Israeli civil courts involve objections to a will. The realities of life show that in many cases wills are prepared at times and in ways that leave openings for objections and the annulment of the will.
Practically speaking, many wills are prepared when the testator is at an advanced age, when his medical condition could arouse questions as to his ability to comprehend the essence of the will. Sometimes the will is prepared under circumstances that could be grounds for claims such as unfair influence, outside involvement or errors, each of which could result in the annulment of the will.
It is important to consider whether the will has structural defects that could enable the challenger to have it annulled based on formality claims related to legal burdens.
Inheritance – a complex legal reality
The Inheritance Law and the extensive body of rulings that has formed over the years have led to every proceeding involving inheritance based on a will – whether a matter of opposition to the probation of the will, protection against the challenging of the will or the interpretation of the will – having many layers, both evident and less evident.
In many cases, a situation that appears to be clear, on the other hand, or problematic on the other can take on a completely different interpretation in the deeper legal layers.
For this reason every will should be examined closely to determine whether what appears evident at first glance could be interpreted as the complete opposite when a legal opinion is built properly.