Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning in Israel

Some years ago in Israel, an elderly man born in Israel wasn’t the best at handling finances and paying close attention to detail. As he and his wife got older, their children urged them to write a “last will and testament,” in order for all distribution of property, which included three homes, to go to the recipient of their choice.

Other than this elderly couple, nobody qualified looked over the will, trust and estate planning document in Israel. The woman signed it on her deathbed and during the shiva (mourning period), her widower handed the signed document, containing the original signatures of the woman and witnesses, to a lawyer who came to pay respects. The lawyer took the document, and that was the last time anyone saw the original. This person then frantically searched and asked that very same attorney who was handed the original will for its whereabouts, to no avail.

A couple of years after this incident, the elderly man demanded that another lawyer be brought to draw up another will and told this new lawyer to simply write everything that was in his late wife’s writ. The second lawyer proved to be no better than the first and did not advise the widower that the wording was incredibly vague and could therefore cause many problems for the beneficiaries later on.

To illustrate, prior to the man’s passing, he sold one of the aforementioned three homes and used the proceeds to pay off the remainder of a mortgage for an already existing apartment belonging to one of his kids, and verbally specified to this person that this was to be considered as an early inheritance. In his will though, he wrote that he was leaving behind “an apartment” to said person (which in reality was the apartment the mortgage was paid off to). Not long after, when this person needed to collect welfare for circumstantial reasons, was denied since in the court’s eyes, this person now owned two apartments instead of recognizing that both were really the same one! Therefore, the court saw this as an additional asset which could be sold, and disqualified this person from ever again being able to collect money from the Israeli government in times of financial crisis. Had the verbiage been more specific that the apartment being left was the one which the person was already living in, at such-and-such address, this problem could have been avoided.

This was one person that was affected. Every single beneficiary needed to deal with the very many bureaucratic snafus in Israel, after this elderly man’s death. Some of the heirs were thereby denied benefits and aid as they, themselves, got older, simply due to the negligent, vague and nightmarish wording of a will, trust and estate planning, in Israel which frankly, should have been simple, forthright and crystal clear with the correct details specified.

Do Not File Your Own Final Drafts of Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning in Israel Without Competent Counsel

The example above is not so unusual. This elderly man’s scenario was surprisingly typical of many cases. Someone who loses a spouse typically becomes completely overcome with one’s own grief and flood of emotions. This combined with being practically unqualified to “DIY” write wills, trusts and plan estates in Israel, becomes a recipe for disaster. What happened to his descendants can happen many times over in other families. The man put his trust in not one, but two Israeli lawyers, both of whom were only too glad to take his money and felt no obligation towards their naive client.

David Page is a lawyer in Jerusalem, Israel, licensed both, in the United States of America and Israel, who will prepare and file any wills, trusts and estate planning documents in Israel and uphold the highest standards of expertise and utmost integrity.

Don’t Take Arbitrary Advice or Try to Study Law on the Internet

Even your most intelligent and best-meaning friends and acquaintances should not be consulted in such matters, unless they are attorneys who are experts in the field of wills, trusts and estate planning in Israel. Rush jobs when perusing and proofreading documents, oversights, lack of knowledge, can all result in great losses and entirely miss the point of leaving a legal document to distribute your worldly goods.