What happens to money in Israel in a wife’s name, when the couple ( who had dual Israeli and US citizenship and had built their home, business and family in California, after marrying in a Jewish wedding in Israel) were in the middle of civil divorce proceedings there, covering property, and the husband died suddenly without having made a will ?
By: דיאנה שאלתיאל•Published on: 12 May, 2022
While jurisdiction over the division of the couple’s marital assets – including the determination of their property rights in Israel – lay with the court in California which was dealing with the dissolution of marriage there, those proceedings stop upon the death of a spouse. Under the Californian Family Code a spouse’s death dissolves the marriage as a matter of law, and stops proceedings in a dissolution of marriage plea , and the court’s jurisdiction to determine issues still to be decided, including property. However, the death does not affect orders already given and the family court retains jurisdiction to enforce rights already decided upon.
Accordingly, if the Californian court had determined the parties’ property rights in Israel before the husband’s death , then application for an order to distribute his share in it could be made to the appropriate Inheritance Registrar in Israel. If, under Israeli law, the couple’s status was that of married couple – i.e. they had not divorced in an American rabbinical court authorized and recognized by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate – then half would go to the surviving spouse, and the other half would be divided equally between their children. If, however, the Californian court had not determined the deceased spouse’s rights in the Israeli property, then application would have to be made in Israel for a declaratory judgment on this, according to Israeli law, at the same as application is made to distribute her share of the Israeli property according to Israeli inheritance law.