The Benefits under Israeli Law of a Notarized Will on an Ordinary Will

September 2, 2015
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Israel’s inheritance law enable the making of a will in four different manners: a handwritten will, a will before witnesses, a will before a judge or a notary public or, in exceptional cases of impending death, also an oral will. Are there advantages to a notarized will?

A will is the expression of the wishes of a person regarding such person’s property after following such person’s demise. As long as a person is mentally competent to make a will, such person can amend or cancel the will at any time and an agreement on the contents of a will or a prohibition (including a limitation within a will) to change a will or cancel it will be unenforceable. Naturally, because the will is reviewed after the testator is no longer among the living, it is important for the will to be formulated is the clearest manner and by a professional in order to avoid future interpretive disputes as to the wording of the will. However, even a proper drafting of a will cannot prevent the less satisfied beneficiaries of the testator to attack the will and most of the testamentary legal disputes concern the capacity of the testator to make the will and allegations of procedural defects in the will.

A notarized will bears two major advantages over ordinary wills. One is the fact that the attestation of the notary public is sufficient evidence in legal proceedings without further evidence, as to compliance of the will with all procedural requirements and thus a notarized will create greater certainty as to the validity of the will in future legal disputes.

The second advantage is that the notary public keeps a numbered copy of the will in the notary public records and thus it is extremely difficult to fortify was signed by him and very limited possibility of forging the will after its creation.

Additionally, a notarized will is highly recommended when in case of a concern that someone might attempt to attack the will on the grounds of lack of legal capacity of the testator, i.e. a contention that the testator was not mentally competent at the time of making of the will. Because a notary public verifies the ability of the testator to perform the procedure, it is very difficult to attack a notarized will on such grounds. It is important to note that when the testator is hospitalized or bedridden a notarized will may not be made unless the notary public has first been given a medical certificate issued by a doctor on the day of the making of the will stipulating the mental capacity of the testator. Here, too, because the medical certificate is kept by the notary public together with the authenticated copy of the will, a record of the capacity of the testator is kept and it will be very difficult to attack the will on the grounds of lack of testator capacity.

In conclusion, as inheritance disputes are one of the major causes of conflicts within family members, one is advised to ensure a clearly drafted will with the assistance of a lawyer or notary public familiar with this area of law. Furthermore, it is highly recommended to make notarized will because a notarized will increases the certainty that the will cannot be attacked on grounds of lack of testator’s capacity or procedural defects.