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How to Legally Prepare for Death and Mental Incapacity

We are living in turbulent times. We strive to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe amidst a pandemic; we follow the rules governments introduce, we get vaccinated or self-isolate. What more can we do to protect ourselves and the people we care about in this world, where Covid-19 is just the last in a long list of factors that add uncertainty to our lives, especially here in the Middle-East?

Here are a few useful tips:

1. You are never too young to make a Will
You might think that at 45, 40 or even younger, making a Will is irrelevant. You probably feel this way because thinking about your own death is something most people try to avoid. Nevertheless, death is inevitable, and even more – unpredictable. Like making a decision about insurance, choosing an investment portfolio, sometimes we are obliged to think about the future. Also, if you do not make a Will, what will take effect after you die will be the default Will in the Law of Inheritance. In most cases, it will not be the optimal way to divide your assets between your heirs. This is especially true for married people, when divorce is contemplated, yet did not happen yet, and especially during the process of divorce. Make a decision to decide for yourself. If you are not sure how to divide your assets or to whom, an experienced lawyer can assist you in making these crucial decisions, in a way that will ensure optimal posthumous distribution of your assets. Stop procrastinating – make the decision today.

2. Keep your Will up-to-date
Perhaps you already have a Will. But, does it fit your current needs? Sometimes an old Will can do more harm than good. As a rule of thumb, reexamine your Will every five years, or even sooner in case of changes in your marital status, birth (or death) of heirs, and changes in your preferences regarding your possessions or medical decisions.

3. Disinheritance is an option
Unlike some other countries, Israel permits each person to bequeath his or her property to whomever they wish. Children do not have a birthright to inherit from their parents, and in many cases, they indeed do not deserve to – only you will know, only you will decide. I am not encouraging you to disinherit any of your children, but occasionally it is well justified. In some cases, one may wish to bequeath more to some children because of special needs. Occasionally, a child is estranged or treats you poorly, and maybe you simply love a certain child more. Some children may struggle financially while others are doing well for themselves. Whatever the reason, a Will is the proper way to reflect this. But please, be advised that such Wills tend to be contested in court. Therefore, it is paramount to ensure that it will be upheld by a judge. For this purpose, your Will should be impeccable, so it could be properly defended in court. It should be accompanied with sufficient evidence to demonstrate to the judge that it manifests the genuine desire of the deceased, and that it is not the result of undue pressure. It is recommended that in such cases, a notarized Will certified by a qualified notary would be prepared. This type of Will is considered the most trustworthy Will and is comparable to a Will declared in front of a judge.

4. Everybody needs a guardian (angel)
Another potential serious turn of events is becoming legally incapacitated. This may happen due to accident, illness, or old age. Take note: the proportion of older people in the population is increasing in nearly every country, the number of people suffering from dementia is predicted to rise to 140 million in the year 2050. If you did not appoint a designated guardian, the court will do it for you. Often, these nominations are given to a family member, and this may not be the one you would have preferred. If you do not have close relatives, the court normally nominates second grade lawyers, the type you would not have chosen for yourself in hindsight.A Continuous Power of Attorney enables you to select someone you trust for this purpose. In fact, you can choose several people for this task. For example, if one of your daughters is a medical doctor and another is in finance, consider making the former your guardian for medical issues and the latter for your finances. Please be advised that only lawyers with special qualifications and training by the Ministry of Justice can prepare a Continuous Power of Attorney, which is the better alternative to having a court second-guessing your wishes.



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Friday, 19 July 2024

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