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What is a Will or Testament in 2022?

What is a Will or Testament?

A will is just what its name implies: the request of a person (who asks with the expectation that their wishes will be honored) to those remaining after him, that they will fulfill his last request. Will!

From the legal perspective, it is the request of a person to divide their assets according to their wishes, whatever they may be, on the condition that the will is a proper legal instrument.

Why Do I Need a Will?

The truth is simple:

If you don’t plan to ever leave this world,

If you don’t want anything to be left for anyone,

If you don’t care at all what happens after you die,

Then you do not need a will!

Most people think otherwise and consider what will happen after they pass away and want to distribute their assets in a particular way.

Israeli law is different from Brazilian law. In Israel, for instance, there is no obligation to “leave something” to your children. The testator may leave all of their assets to only one of their children, or to a neighbor, or donate all their assets to any institution, without bequeathing anything to their children.

I purposely used the term “their” since a person may not bequeath anything other than their own property and not that of another. As a result, a spouse can leave only their half of the assets, since the other half is the property of their spouse.

For example: John Doe is married and has, for the sake of argument, two flats of equal value. He can only bequeath one of the flats and not both of them, because his property was shared with his wife in life as well.

Freedom to Bequeath at the Discretion of the Individual/Testator

Today, law that respects the rights of man and his freedom, property is a basic and protected right and therefore a person has the right to bequeath their property after death and divide the inheritance as they see fit, as long as it meets the legal requirements.

What are the Different Types of Wills?

It can be said that there are four types of wills:

  1. Written
  2. Before an authority
  3. Before witnesses
  4. Oral or (in the Talmudic concept) On the death bed”

Wills Before Witnesses

This is the best type of will, as it is usually prepared by an attorney who knows the laws well, which ensures that the will is prepared in accordance with the rules defined by law. Its importance lies in the fact that it is difficult to contest/annul a written will prepared by an attorney and before witnesses although , the court deals with this type of contest – not very often.

What to Do When There is No Will

If a will was not made in life and/or on the death bed (see above), then the inheritance laws of the State of Israel are in effect for their property (inheritance).

Most of us, if not all of us, have heirs and they will inherit according to the order of priority determined by law and receive their share or, at times, even the entire inheritance.

In any event, it will be necessary to meet all the conditions determined by law, and the division of property in the case of dispute can take many years.

Potential Problems if the Deceased Had No Will

Remember that the larger the family is, the greater and more varied the assets are (such as stocks, copyrights, etc.). Therefore the division is harder, and there are often battles between the heirs that empty the inheritance of funds.

The division of the assets can turn into an acute and painful problem that sometimes divides families forever.

When an asset cannot be divided, or is difficult to divide, the heirs “go to war” which usually leaves the “attorneys richer and the inheritance fund emptier”. This is not because of the lawyer, but because of the emotions that hinder the ability to reach a compromise.

More than once we have found families divided because of the division of a flat where each of the parties “stands on principle” and is not willing to reach a settlement. In the end of such cases, the court may have no choice but to order the sale of the asset and divide the proceeds, something that usually causes financial harm and psychological distress to all parties involved.

Can a Will Be Changed Once It Has Been Created?

Certainly! Any “will” can be changed and the last will (the latest date) is the determining one.

What is a Probate Order?

A probate order is a court order (subsequent to a request for a probate order) that dictates the execution of the will. Without this order, there is no way to execute the will. The process of a probate order is generally inexpensive and quick.

Does Making a Will Cost Anything?

Not necessarily. A will written before witnesses is liable to a lawyer’s fee depending on how complex the will and the division of property are.

Other types of wills (not always recommended), do not necessarily involve payment. In summation, there is no fixed fee for preparing a will.

It is important to note that the lawyer preparing the will must be fluent in the language that the testator understands. If the testator is not a Hebrew speaker and is only fluent in Portuguese, then the attorney must also be fluent in that same language in order to be sure that the person signing the will understands the significance of his signature on the document.

The Will as a Charm, a Sign of a Persons Long Life

Preparing a will is a blessing for a long life and not a reason to fear the evil eye.

With wishes for a long and happy life until 120!

Tzvi Szajnbrum was born in Brazil in 1957 and made Aliya (immigrated) to Israel in 1977. He is a licensed Attorney & Notary and professional mediator.

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