Order of Probate — what to do when you receive a property inheritance in Israel

When a property inheritance is received in Israel, the heirs are often overwhelmed and fearful that the process of transferring ownership will be difficult. Combine this with the fact that they are still in the grieving process over their loved one, this may create an emotional overload that may prevent this from being taken care of in a timely manner.

It is important, however, that the property inheritance process is started not long after the deceased has passed away because later on, it can be difficult to find the relevant documents and provide proof of identification in Israel. I once dealt with a case where the heirs wanted to transfer a property that should have been transferred years ago, however, the documentation was difficult to locate and did not match the documentation held with the government records, because the property had been purchased using foreign driver licenses as ID.

I have also heard of cases where well-meaning relatives were clearing out the deceased’s house and threw away crucial documents without realizing that they were needed. There have also been cases of paperwork that was kept in a storage space that was flooded or ruined and all the documents were destroyed.


If a property in Israel isn’t transferred to the correct heirs, it cannot be sold and might be lost to the family altogether, especially if the second generation isn’t aware that the property exists at all.

Getting the order of inheritance

In Israel, it’s best to start the property inheritance process a few weeks after getting up from shiva or mourning, as it can take at least 2-3 months from submission of all the paperwork until an order of inheritance or probate is issued, (in most cases it takes much longer and in complicated cases, it can easily take over a year to complete).

The first step is to gather the following documents:

  1. Death certificate.
  2. The original will – if there is one. In cases where no will has been written, Israeli law designates heirs according to The Inheritance Law.
  3. Proof that the people submitting the request are in fact the people mentioned in the will or are the close relatives of the deceased.
  4. Copy of the title extract or deed that shows who owns the property.
  5. Bank statements.
  6. If the deceased passed away overseas, there are additional documents required: The paperwork to request an inheritance order is submitted online, and the original will needs to be sent via registered mail to the Registrar of Inheritance, as a copy is not sufficient. The application must be submitted in the city/jurisdiction where the deceased passed away or where the property is registered. Anyone can gather the documents, but the heir must be available to sign the paperwork. If the heirs live abroad they will be required to sign a Power of Attorney and the necessary documents before the Israeli Consulate or before a Notary public and have the documents certified by “Apostille”.

Legal issues and inheritance in Israel

It is advisable to hire an attorney in Israel who specializes in both probate law and real estate law to assist with submitting the paperwork and transferring over the title. I have seen several cases of landlords who were renting out properties that were not transferred over properly to them- so they officially did not own them. When a potential tenant asked me to look over a rental contract, I discovered that the legal heirs had never registered the apartment under their names and were technically renting out a property to which they had no legal claim. This problem will become even more serious if the heirs or their descendants want to sell the property down the line.

Another important issue is that of capital gains tax in Israel. Owners of two apartments can be taxed on the sale of the property, so it’s important that the heirs register the second property as an inheritance in order to be exempt from capital gains tax upon its sale. Getting good legal advice at the outset will prevent the heirs from paying unnecessary taxes at a later stage.

An attorney can help with cases that are more complex as well. Sometimes, the heirs have already passed away and the property must be transferred to their heirs. The heirs may be minors, and guardians or trustees are required to manage the property until the heirs become of legal age. The property may not be registered in the tabu. All of these cases are not simple and require the legal assistance of an expert in probate and real estate law.

Choosing an attorney

Because inheritances are a sensitive subject and the period after death is an emotional one, it’s important to work with a professional who has a good “bedside manner.” He or she should be sensitive and compassionate. This can be very subjective, so it’s best to speak to the lawyer at length and determine whether one feels comfortable and in good hands.

This process of real estate inheritance in Israel can be daunting, but it’s actually not so difficult when you deal with it properly and promptly. It is much easier to do this soon after the death rather than further down the road, despite the emotional toll it may take on one. The process does require patience, but with proper guidance, it can be done efficiently and economically. Besorot Tovot!

The contents of this article are designed to provide the reader with general information and not to serve as legal or other professional advice for a particular transaction. Readers are advised to obtain advice from qualified professionals prior to entering into any transaction.

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