A Will before an authority

Zion Simantov was unlucky. A bullet that was shot straight into his jaw during the Yom Kippur War left him mute and wounded. Although he received a lot of money at the end of many years of struggle and possessed many assets, he hardly ever enjoyed them because of his struggle with the cancer he suffered. Immediately after receiving the terrible news that his days were numbered, he rushed to court with his friend and asked to deliver a verbal will.

He did not have enough time to hire the services of a notary and therefore preferred to apply directly to the court as an authority that would legally enforce his will. His friend translated his will in sign language while the registrar of the court recorded word for word. In the end, Mr. Simantov stated that this was his will, delivered by him, and the judge stated that this will was brought before him as it was written.

Such cases in which a person is required to deliver a verbal will for certain reasons are relatively common: people with disabilities who are blind, mute, deaf or, god forbid, are confined to the hospital bed and cannot go to the notary to draw up the will, and people who for some reason have to deliver their will as soon as possible, can deliver it verbally or in a written form before a judge, the court registrar, the registrar of inheritance affairs or a member of a rabbinical court of their choice.

This procedure is called a will before an authority, and it is included in the state inheritance law and it is a will document for all intents and purposes. The contents of the will, as recorded by one of the factors, will be read before the testator and he must declare that it is his will. The reader must declare at the end that the will has been read and that the testator declared that this is his will.


Special conditions and laws

And what happens when a person wants to draw up a will but does not speak Hebrew or isn’t fluent in the language? How can he pass his will on? A will before an authority allows these people to draw up a will in their own language, and it will be translated from that language into Hebrew, on the spot, by a translator who will be asked to state his reliability.

After drawing up the document, it will be read to the testator with a translation to his language. The testator can even read and translate it himself if he wishes. At the end, the court will state the date and place where it was drawn up.

A will before an authority is a written or verbal will, which is given to another factor that is not a notary and therefore exempt from bringing witnesses as is often done in drawing up a “regular” will. Why? Because the formality of coming and standing before a court or a registrar shows a lot about the commitment, seriousness and decisiveness of that person. However, even when the will is verbally delivered to the notary, it is of course valid: in a particular case, the testator called the notary who had previously dealt with her cases, and read to him by phone all the details of her will that she wished to write. This woman knows Hebrew but she doesn’t write in Hebrew and therefore used this convenient option. A few days later, she came to the notary’s office to sign it.


Who’s in charge here?

The judge and the notary have the same legal authority for drawing up a will. Drawing up a will must be done according to legal conditions that are compatible with the existing regulations in the inheritance law, such as an early examination in which a number of important things are examined: Is the testator in the right condition to perform the action? Does he do it out of his own free will?

Does he understand the meaning and consequences of the action? In addition, the testator must present an updated medical certificate when its date is as close as possible to the date of drawing up the will, and it indicates the medical condition and clarity of that person delivering his will. In any case, a confirmation or proof must be given in order to make sure that the meaning of the action is understood by that person. The regulations require the notary or the court to give the original document to the testator. If the testator refuses to accept it, the right person must deposit it with the registrar of inheritance affairs in the area in which it was drawn up.


Delivering the contents of the will to a rabbi – is this considered a will before an authority?

Ofer visited the rabbi of whom he was a friend. During their conversation, Ofer delivered his will to the rabbi on the basis of his desire for actions that will take place after his death and explained to him how to divide his assets. However, in reality, after Ofer’s death, this will could not be fulfilled. Since this was a private visit, in which the words of the testator were delivered, and without any connection to the role of the rabbi, the rabbi thought that the conversation was a result of frankness between a man and his friend and therefore no “continuation” of the procedure, that legally enforces the will, has been performed.

When the inheritance owner wishes to deliver his verbal will to a rabbi, he must distinguish between delivering the words to a rabbi like to any other person and delivering the words to the rabbi in accordance with his status as a member of a religious court. So, for example, an elderly woman who ordered to transfer the apartment she owned to another person in her death, signed the sale deed of the apartment, on time, before the rabbinical court, and the court ruled that this will meets all the required criteria and is valid.


Sorry, mistake: Examples of mistakes in a will before an authority :

In a particular case discussed in court, a strange section that the notary added by himself to the person’s will was examined. According to the section, the validity of that will depends on the signature of the testator in front of witnesses. However, when the notary was asked, he replied that this was a section that was added by him to the document by mistake.


Is it problematic?

Since the entire will is valid and meets the conditions, there is no defect that prevents it from materializing. But now there is a fairly interesting paradox: since the will is valid as it was decided by the court, there is no legal justification for the court to authorize itself to determine anything in this will. In another case, it was claimed that the deceased, who did not know what a will before an authority was, signed it by mistake. In order to clarify that this was the case, the case was discussed in court, and the court ruled that the will was valid after all.


What are the advantages and disadvantages of a will before an authority?

Any person who is not proficient in Hebrew, people who cannot write or read, have a medical problem, those who are required to draw up a will as quickly as possible, etc. can use an official factor for drawing up their will at any time, without consulting a probate lawyer and paying a lot of money.

Nevertheless, the law relates to verbal wills differently than to written wills. The main danger is that someone can undermine the credibility of people with a language barrier at the time of delivery of their will. This is a legal document for all intents and purposes, and therefore, if it is necessary to appeal against it, it can only be done by a professional lawyer who can convey and explain to the court the fact that the will document does not reflect the will of the deceased after all.

The court naturally does everything in its power to act according to the testator’s will. Therefore, before you consider the move, if it is about your will, or the situation in which you must turn to the court to resolve issues related to the inheritance that was given to you according to a will before an authority – The Miskevich law firm will be happy to serve, advise, guide and accompany you throughout the process with sensitivity, courtesy and great professionalism.

You are invited to contact our office with any question or legal need regarding wills, inheritance and estates, and you can also arrange a meeting with an expert probate lawyer.


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*The above article is by no means a legal advice; any use of this information is solely under the reader’s responsibility.

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About the author:
Daniel Yanovsky Adv.

Yanovsky & Miskevich Law Firm provides a wide range of legal services to individuals and legal entities in Hebrew, Russian and English, in Israel and abroad.

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