Expertise. Understanding. Integrity. Period.

Wills and Estate Lawyering in Israel: Trusts and Probate in Israel, the US, and Beyond*

For those with complex or even relatively simpler estate planning needs in Israel, the US, and internationally, there are a few key issues to be addressed:

1. What Is the Law That Governs the Assets?

Depending on where your assets are, you may find yourself subject to multiple laws, requiring a set of will and trust documents in order to minimize administrative problems for executors or trustees for the estate.  For those with both Israeli and US assets, Israeli law certainly apply to any assets held in Israel, while a US trust is the frequent choice of those with American assets as well.

2. What is the Tax Treatment of the Heirs and Beneficiaries?  

In some countries, most especially the United States of America, confiscatory inheritance taxes are imposed on non-resident aliens (people without US citizenship or legal residency), approaching 50% tax rates in many cases.  It is important to plan wisely, including the use of generation-skipping trusts, in order to legally minimize such taxes.

3. Are There Heirs or Beneficiaries With Special Needs?  

Occasionally an heir or a beneficiary is struggling with substance abuse, mental health issues, physical health, a difficult divorce or custody battle, or a gambling problem, or simply an inability to prudently and competently handle financial issues.  In such a case it makes sense to create a special trust arrangement to effectively address the special needs of such an individual.

4. Who Should be the Executor or Trustee for an Estate?  

Choosing an executor or trustee is very important:  People with prudent judgement, sometimes even more than one person, can be chosen, such as a trusted family member, friend, or professional advisor.  It is also of key importance to pick alternate executors or trustees in case a particular individual is unable or unwilling to serve in that role.

5. When Should You Have a “Living Will” and a Durable Financial Power of Attorney?  

It is important to plan for a time when there may be a temporary or permanent inability to make important healthcare or financial decisions.  For this purpose, an Israeli or US or other “living will” can be executed for people authorized to make important healthcare decisions when you cannot do so.  A durable financial power of attorney document can be executed for important financial decisions.  Obviously in both cases, the individuals chosen have a level of fiduciary responsibility to make good decisions – and not self-serving  decisions – on your behalf.  These documents need to be drafted thoughtfully and carefully.

6. How Can You Keep Current With Changes in the Laws? 

It is important to understand that inheritance and tax laws can change.  For this reason, it is not only important that your legal counsel keep abreast of the issues, but also that there be mechanisms within trust documents, such as the office of the Trust Protector to ensure that legal changes can be effectively incorporated into key decision-making under trust and will structures.

7. Is Probate Necessary?  

That depends where you are, in the US or Israel.  In the US, probate has been largely replaced by trusts, although in the absence of a trust probate in a US probate court of a particular state may be necessary, especially for real estate assets.  In Israel, there is no way around the Israeli Probate Court.  In Europe, many countries will give authority to Israeli probate decisions, depending on how a will is written.

8. A “Halachic Will” For Jewishly Observant People?  

According to most Halachic authorities, it is desirable to have a so-called halachic will in place.  Effectively, this will serves a dual purpose of addressing the need for a halachic will (desirable in itself) and of ensuring that no games can be played via Rabbinical Court (Beit Din) involving the will and trust structure.

* Information contained on this page is not meant to constitute or substitute for specific legal advice addressing actual legal situations as is meant as general guidelines only.  Readers are advised to seek competent legal counsel appropriate and tailored to their particular legal situation.

Pursuant to U.S. Treasury Circular 230, please be advised that any tax advice contained in this communication is not meant to be a Covered Opinion and is not meant or drafted, and may not be used, for the purpose of either avoiding tax-related penalties or promoting, marketing, or recommending any tax-related matters that may be found in this communication.

Recent Posts

lawyer in Jerusalem

Finding an Estate and Probate Lawyer in Israel

Failing to plan is planning to fail. One might think that there is no such thing as post-mortem failure. The benefactor, once deceased, certainly can’t be blamed for anything going on in this world anymore, right? Right. However, the beneficiaries can be left with no small mess to clean up and sort out, for lack of estate planning. The US and Israel’s laws change often and quicker than citizens might be aware of. To ensure that all assets reach the rightful hands, when the time comes, legal documents, filed properly and on time, are the only things that can do this. Unless you want to run the risk that your assets might be impounded or usurped by governments and entangled in red tape, you absolutely must hire professional advisors and/or lawyers who understand your aim and you need to leave everything, down to the minutest detail, in order when you leave. Lawyers, expert in estate planning and knowledgeable in both, American/US and Israeli law, can best do this. The offices of David Page Law is a leader in this field and sensitive to your wishes. It will secure the transfer of any property, as well as other personal affairs, when the time comes. You might also prefer that a neutral party handle the execution and administration of all matters pertaining to your estate. A licensed, expert lawyer is the best for such a job. National law or a last will and testament would be adhered to in all such business. Should you choose to appoint a layperson to handle your estate, that party could have questions that pertain to taxes or legalities, especially if the matter involves two countries. An expert estate, trusts, wills, and probate lawyer is the best person for such a job and will help the administrator…

Continue Reading


Real Estate Contract Mistakes You Should Avoid

What does a standard real estate purchase document include? A standard real estate document is the blueprint showing the roles of each party in the transaction before the transfer of the title to the real property (apartment, house, office space, commercial real estate, etc.). Simple real estate documents include detailed information on the property, buyer, seller, price, financing, contingencies, insurance, closing, inspections, terminations, taxes, termination options and more. There is available a lot of information, and it’s easy for an unsuspecting buyer or seller get confused due to minor mishaps. Here Are Five Mistakes You Could Find In A Real Estate Contract: Not disclosing encumbrances An encumbrance is simply a claim against a property by someone other than the owner. This can ultimately impact the ability of the title to be transferred to a new party. Encumbrances must be lifted before any transaction can occur. Common encumbrances can include property tax, liens, easements, and mortgages. Encumbrances can only apply to person instead of real-property. You might want to check with the office of regulatory affairs to make sure you remain protected from any potential scams. Not disclosing leases Buyers should pay attention to any potential lease disclosures and should discuss with the seller’s realtor to find out if there is an active lease on the property. Sellers who have hired a third-party management company needs to review their contract. This makes them sure to end any possibility of new leases before the sale, so the owner is not blind sighted. Inaccurate legal description Wring parcels can be listed on deeds or the real size of the land might be misstated during the purchase. This type of error can negatively affect the taxes on the property. Mistakes in the footage can ultimately change the appraised value of the home, thus leading…

Continue Reading


Estate Planning Problems You Should Be Aware Of

When most of us think of the wills, trusts, and estates lawyer, everyone has heard of the problems associated with poor planning. Whether it is fighting between heirs of a last will and testament or beneficiaries of a revocable or irrevocable trust, or whether there is too much discretion accorded to an executor or trustee, the problems that can occur after the passing of the testator of a will or grantor of a trust are potentially very grave. And if one thinks it is better to die intestate (without a will or living trust dealing with one’s estate), think again. We all have possessions we cherish and want to pass on to specific people or organizations, something we want to be done after we have left this world. We may have personal items such as jewelry or financial assets of various sorts or real estate to be allocated. A will or living trust avoids the confusion that might otherwise arise amongst your family members or other beneficiaries after your demise. And wasteful and unpleasant probate court proceedings can be avoided to the extent possible. Beware of The Legal Scammers Even when we plan ahead and want to create a will, we still expose ourselves to the unscrupulous companies. A new type of scam is the estate planning scam. It is important to know that the elderly are more prone to being taken advantage of by these companies. This is especially so if the person has reduced capacities. The estate planning scam occurs when an elderly person has to sign “power of attorney”. This gives the company total control over the person’s property or personal estate. Beware of Unscrupulous Executors or Trustees and Overly-Wide Discretion It is very important to appoint a person or persons as executor or trustee who are…

Continue Reading


Essential Real Estate Documents For Closing the

CLOSING A REAL ESTATE SALE After making an offer on a real estate property and getting it accepted, prospective buyers have waited several weeks to finally be in a position to move into the new house. However, there is one more step that remains, and that is the closing. In the end, a buyer will need to provide several documents so that they can finalize the sale. A buyer who is looking to provide these documents at the end will benefit by attending it with one or more wills and probate lawyers. THE DEED The first document that you will need at the closing is the deed. This is a document that allows you to be put into the chain of ownership records with the Israeli Land Registry (TABU). It is significant because it will enable you to have a formal record of ownership of the property. Therefore, anyone looking up current and past owners will be able to refer to the deed to find your record of the purchase. A BILL OF SALE You will need to bring a bill of sale which transfers all other personal property such as furnaces, air conditioners, and appliances. Having this document is significant because it will enable you to have legitimate proof that you will be receiving other property along with the house itself. PAYMENT OF APPLICABLE TAXES Calculating the applicable Israeli taxes, including tax on the acquisition (Mas Rechisha), appreciation tax (Hashbacha), and application of various discounts including TAMA 38 incentives and Aliyah benefits are key elements of a real estate sale. THE MORTGAGE The mortgage is the agreement that you have with the lender to buy the property. It also states that the property is collateral for the loan. A mortgage is recorded with the deed and becomes a lien…

Continue Reading



The Biggest Legal Mistakes You Could Make Without the Right Knowledge There are several mistakes clients make before buying a home. Some buyers do not have proper guidance to avoid common pitfalls. Which is why a few of the more qualified lawyers from one of the top-notch real estate practices Israel has to offer agreed to sit down and explain a few facts.  1) You have to write a strong offer to the seller. Sellers do not generally respond to invalid and weak offers requests, according to one of the more prominent real estate law firm Israel has to offer.  According to an Israel real estate lawyer, your offer has to be something worth talking about. In other words, do you only have $,500,000 to spend on a home? Well, you cannot go talk to someone selling a $1 million home unless you leverage financing. The seller will disregard the offer,  You may only have $500,000 to spend, but that does not mean you cannot negotiate an asking price down to a price approaching your level. The listing is $1 million for a reason, so 50% will unlikely be an accept discount. 2) According to an Israel real estate lawyer, your offer has to be written in a deal before proceeding to the next level. In other words, you cannot offer value to the seller using just words. Words mean nothing without a contract backing it up. Someone could offer more money on the property than what is being asked. The seller is going to take that offer over yours. You should be aware of this going in.  3) There is no way you can make an agreement without knowing information on the home, including mortgages, liens, the title, records associated with the title, and other legal documents.  You need…

Continue Reading