It is often difficult to make a decision, in normal circumstances, when making a Will and deciding who should benefit and in what proportion property should be left to beneficiaries.
The situation is exacerbated if an Orthodox Jew wishes to make a Will which will correspond with Halacha (religious law). This is because Halacha lays down an order of inheritance, including the double portion for a first-born son.
There must also be taken in account rights of the wife, who is entitled to considerable support from the estate and which continues until re-marriage or she claims her Ketubah (rights under the marriage contract). This can bring about a situation not dissimilar from the life interest a spouse attains in an intestacy under English Law.
In addition, sons and daughters, are, in Halacha, treated in different ways.
How The Law Practice Can Help
The Law Practice is now offering our Jewish Clients Wills that are compliant with Halacha. This will ensure that your estate is divided according as well as complying with the requirements of UK law. Your peace of mind is paramount and with the service that we offer you can rest easy knowing your material affairs will be in order after your passing.
According to many poskim (religious decisions) nominated property, life insurances and joint assets are treated differently from the rest of the estate, as they are in English Law.
In Halacha, it is forbidden to circumvent the order of inheritance and a Will that overrides this Order, even though such a Will is valid, violates Halacha.
Many poskim have attempted to reconcile Halachic Wills and Secular Wills. It is particularly important as in modern Western society, most people do not want to discriminate between sons and daughters. There has been a custom in the Ashkenazi Community to leave daughters one-half of that is left to sons, but now people wish to leave an equal amount to sons and daughters and there are those who rely on a lenient ruling who permit it to prevent conflict. Others, however, reject this entirely.
Many poskim have suggested ways to justify Secular Wills. These include various religious principles including:
death bed requests; relying upon minhag (local norms or customs); honouring Wills under the principle that Halacha gives binding effect to laws passed by a secular government; the principal of kibbud av v’aim (honouring parents) so that children should follow their parents’ wishes including their testamentary wishes; and the principle of the obligation to fulfil the orders of a deceased person.
The most effective way of ensuring that a Secular Will can be upheld is by way of the principal of Chatzi Zachar. This is the principle whereby a Halachic Will addendum is made which constitutes a shetar chov, a document or obligation to pay a debt.
At the Law Practice (UK) Ltd, our specialist Wills team led by Director Trevor Nathan has extensive experience in advising on, and drafting, Halachic Wills which can be reconciled with Secular Wills and will be pleased to advise on how this can be done, Call our team on 0121 778 2371 and speak to an expert or Contact Us here.
Appearance Before Beth Din
Trevor Nathan also has experience of appearing before the Beth Din (Rabbinical Court) on behalf of clients, who wish their civil actions to be heard, and mediated, in accordance with Halachic principles.