Wills and Legacies and Everything in Between

Wills and Legacies and Everything in Between

 

Alon Nativ

 

In most cultures we treat one's last wish respectfully and seriously. We strive to respect the last wish as a binding order whether provided as a written will or verbally. Wills have a clear legal reference; we must fulfill them. Unfortunately, we encounter many times disrespect for the last wish.

 

Legislators have determined what to do with the estate of a person who reached 120 years of age, passed away and left no will. The lack of adequate professional knowledge in the law of succession on the part of the testator might cause him to distribute the estate not according to his will. All the more so one should pay attention to the financial aspects; a series of preliminary actions can save payments of many taxes. It is certainly true and necessary when the property does not divide equally between the survivors, for example, in cases of a second marriage, etc.

 

Most of us are aware to the subject of wills and financial planning, but what about the legacy of the individual? What does he want to leave behind, how to farewell? The subject of the farewell occasion is important to every person, especially those who have something to say to the survivors and that the way they depart is important to them. Whatever the choice may be, there are two underlying motives: taking care of the survivors, comforting them and helping them in time of distress, pain and loneliness, and the will to leave an impression and memory.

 

So why don't survivors always follow the requests of their relatives as written in wills? The answer is manifold and there is more than a single reason. For example, a will is coming into effect after receiving the death certificate – long after the funeral and the farewell occasion. This is to say that theoretically, if a person hasn't left his will in a conspicuous place and his family will receive it only after receiving he death certificate (several weeks), everything he wanted to exist in his funeral itself (for example burial in a coffin, the playing of a certain song, etc.) has never been executed. Sometimes the survivors are not comfortable with the nature of the request – for example, civil burial with no religious content, cremation, burial in a coffin, etc. – that is, the content of the request is opposed to their views so they refuse (despite the illegality of their refusal) to execute the will.

 

Due to sensitivity to contents, mainly the financial ones, most of the persons surrounding the author of the will don't know and/or are not aware to the various requests of that person. From the legal aspect, there is a number of valid wills; printed and signed will bearing signatures of two witnesses, printed and signed will accompanied by a notary signature, and a handwritten will by the author. The latter option allows anybody to write an additional will without costs and assistance of professionals. One can also write a short second will in the form of one's legacy that neither cancels nor supersedes the full will, it can be carried in one's purse and is readily available to all family members and/or anyone who should take care of them. It can be duplicated in many copies without fear of divulging the classified, more sensitive contents of the full will. The execution of the full "financial" will can also be stipulated by first fulfilling the handwritten one.

 

Here is an example for such a will:

 

"I hereby order that after I die my body will be cremated and my ash scattered in the mountains of Jerusalem. This will, if fulfilled, does not cancel any other will. If this will shall not be fulfilled, it cancels my will dated …. – signed …. Date …….."

 

It is understood that as long as one talks and negotiates with the people surrounding him, he will make it easier for them to understand his last will and its importance to him. To make it easier on the survivors, it is acceptable to order the services of part of them beforehand. Buying a bundle of services or a burial plot is done by a substantial segment of Israeli citizens.

 
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