The law firm of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh specializes in many aspects of Israeli administrative law. This article discusses issues of inheritance law in Israel. Specifically, it will focus on the rights of heirs among the immediate family members. The article will also demonstrate the differences between French and Israeli succession law. To learn more about this subject, consult our collection of articles on inheritance issues.

The right of inheritance: not in Israel

It is essential to know that the Israeli law does not give immediate family specific inheritance rights. When writing a will, you are not obliged to leave a share to any family members. A testator may leave their estate to whomever they wish.

However, the law governing the settling of the inheritance will depend on the place of residence of the testator at the time of his death. This means that French law may apply to immovable property situated in France while the law of the country (specifically, in this instance, Israel) where the resident died will apply to all movable property. You can find out more about what is meant by “resident” and what portion of the estate will be subject to which law in our article on the subject.

The order of heirs under the Israeli law

The articles of Israel’s Succession Act of 1965 specify the order of succession according to the degree of kinship, as well as the shares that accrue to each family member according to this degree. This order is followed by default if the deceased did not draft a will. In first place is the spouse of the deceased. Next in line are the children and their heirs, the parents and their heirs and finally the grandparents and their heirs. Adopted children enjoy the same rights as natural children. The extended family, cousins, uncles and in-laws, do not receive a portion of the estate by default.

The children of the deceased will share half of his property and the surviving spouse will receive the remaining half. In the event that the deceased did not have children and their parents are no longer alive, their siblings will receive one third of the inheritance, the surviving spouse receiving two-thirds. Finally, if the deceased had no legal heirs, their estate will be transferred to the state.

The testament and the freedoms that it confers

Differences israeli and french inheritance lawThe drafter of a will in Israel is free to bequeath their estate as they see fit. They are at liberty to discard the order of succession established above, according to their preferences. Unlike France, the Israeli system does not recognize an obligation to leave a portion of the estate to the immediate family. In France, it is imperative not to infringe the rights of the heirs (children, parents and surviving spouse). The French Civil Code decrees that certain heirs cannot be excluded from the estate. As certain part of the “patrimony” must be reserved for the family; the rest may be freely disposed by the deceased, as a “quota”.

There are several types of wills recognized in Israel: given to an appropriate authority, written, oral, or dictated on the testator’s deathbed. Regardless, we advise you to write your will with the aid of a lawyer and in front of witnesses (the latter fulfilling the function of a notary in Israel’s succession law).


differeces israeli and french inheritance lawIf you have questions for an Israeli lawyer specializing succession issues in Israel, please contact us. We are committed to providing excellent legals services at a reasonable cost. Arrange a meeting at our law office branch in Jerusalem or Petakh Tikva for a legal consultation.

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