Pursuant to the law, upon a person’s demise, his estate passes to his/her heirs. A person’s heirs and their share in the estate are determined in accordance with the law (hereinafter: “Inheritance by Law”), unless he/she made a will, naming other heirs. It is important to emphasize that under Israeli law, every person has absolute freedom to determine who will inherit his/her estate. For the purpose of the statement of the heirs by law or by will an application for a succession order or for a probate order, as the case may be, should be submitted to the Registrar of Successions. In the events provided under the law, the hearing of these applications is transferred to the Family Court. Furthermore, with consent of all the relevant parties, the pertinent religious courts are authorized to hear matters of inheritance. It is recommended that an attorney be consulted as to the appropriate judicial body in this regard.
Heirs By Law – Under the law, a person’s heirs are his/her spouse, his/her children and their offspring, parents and their offspring, and parent’s parents and their offspring. The inheritance rights of each of the above heirs, if any, and the share of each of them in the estate depend on their relation to the deceased in accordance with the priority provided under the law, as well as on the existence or absence of other heirs. Thus, for instance, it was determined that the deceased’s spouse is to inherit one half of the estate if the deceased left children or their offspring or parents. If the deceased left siblings or their offspring or parents’ parents the spouse will inherit two thirds of the estate, and, under certain circumstances, even the deceased entire share of the apartment where the spouse lived with the deceased. If the deceased leaves no relatives apart from the spouse, the spouse inherits the entire estate and so forth in respect of the other heirs.
It is important to note in this context that an heir by law is not obligated to accept his/her share of the estate and may waive his/her share of the estate.
The law does not differentiate between the inheritance rights of the surviving married spouse and those of a “common law partner” who led domestic life in a joint household with the deceased where neither of them was married to another person (see also “inheritance between common law partners”).