If we aren’t meticulous in preparing a will we are in danger of leaving a very different outcome than we intended.
Why we write a will
We work our entire lives to support ourselves and our families. Some of us acquire riches from the start and some of us spend a lifetime accumulating our assets, shekel by shekel.
We all hope to have something to leave behind. Whether it’s the wisdom and knowledge of a lifetime of Torah study or our physical assets, we leave our riches in the hopes that it will be of help to our loved ones. And this will be our recompense for hard work throughout our lives.
This is the reason we write a will. And it’s important to know what happens if you pass away without one.
Good intensions can go wrong
This is an unfortunate case of a woman who commissioned a lawyer to draft a will which ultimately caused a dispute between her two children. She passed away at the age of 100 and her children were not able to apply the terms of the will as it had been written.
The woman requested that her daughter receive the primary house on a collective farm (moshav) and that the remaining assets in the estate (i.e., her share in the cooperative) should be divided between her son and daughter. This form of division was not possible since the will contradicted the agreement with the cooperative that disallowed splitting the estate to more than one owner.
The siblings quarreled between them since the daughter wanted the will to be carried out as written and the son contended that he is the “surviving son” who has been living in the extended area for many years. He insisted that according to the rules of the cooperative, the entire estate belongs to him.
The final decision
The judge felt it was necessary to find a solution which resembled the wishes of the deceased mother as closely as possible. The court’s solution was that the son, who was living on the farm for close to 50 years, would retain the entire estate and would compensate the daughter with payments that approximated the value of the house and half of the remaining assets.
The brother appealed to the District Court before three judges who decided not to intervene in the primary decision of the Family Court.
The judges asserted that the instructions of the will were not applicable since they contravened the agreement with the cooperative and these circumstances warranted a substitute solution that could at least come close to the wishes of the deceased.
Preparing a will carefully
As an ethical person in general and a lawyer in particular, it is especially important to me that when putting together a will for my clients, we go through the laws pertaining to their individual situations. For example careful consideration must be taken if you have assets in both Israel and another country. I take into account all the legal ramifications and together we construct a clear and unequivocal directive. I help my clients draft wills that can be honored according to their wishes for the time when their voices cannot be heard.