In Israel, thousands of assets totaling approximately 15 billion Israeli Shekels currently remain unclaimed. These unclaimed assets include land, developed real estate, bank accounts, stocks and bonds.

“Abandoned property” is defined in section 1 of the Law as an asset in respect of which no one is entitled and able to be treated as owners, or an asset whose owner is unknown.

Naturally, the need for claiming, finding such property, assets, lands by their rightful heirs arises. The process of locating lost, abandoned or unclaimed assets in Israel requires, among other things, a very competent, diligent Israeli attorney with depth understanding as well as a proper investigation to trace those lands & assets. How to find and locating a lost or abandoned property in Israel? This article discusses this matter.

The first step is to gather any relevant data including family tree and or any ID number in order to start the due diligence and genealogical evidence to track the property, estate in the Israeli Land Registry Offices “The Tabu”, Minhal or Hevra Meshakenet. We will learn the name of the current or historic landowner as well as his Israeli ID number or American/any passport. The information held by the Israeli TABU is considered highly credible and sensitive, and it is part of the Israeli land database.

Second step is to check: 1) managing the abandoned assets for the benefit of the private owner/s and 2) releasing the assets to those entitled to them after getting a Israeli probate court order, or where beneficiaries can not be located, transfer the property to the State of Israel until the right heirs will be found.

We handle various types of abandoned assets in Israel, including real estate, lands, personal property, funds and bank accounts. By law, an “abandoned property” in Israel is defined as an asset in which its owner or manager cannot be found or is unknown, and can be released only by a probate process and a court order that will determine the right heirs, and now owners of the Israeli land or any financial asset in Israel.

The Israeli government concludes its management of the property in one of three main actions. Firstly, it can release the asset to the person who is the lawful owner again by a Israeli probate court order. Alternatively, it can transfer the asset to the State of Israel. Thirdly and lastly it can transfer the asset to The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets, if appropriate.

We will discuss in detail the first aforementioned action – negotiation with The TABU over unclaimed property. In this case, the person claiming a right to the property must prove to the satisfaction of the Israeli Administrator General that he is the legal owner of the asset. In this process, the Israeli Administrator General will act very carefully to ensure that it has received sufficient information regarding the applicant’s rights and a probate court order that proofs the person are the legal heir. Then, the Israeli Administrator General guarantees the asset is released into the right hands and it also prevents any threats to the asset’s legal owner such as illegal takeovers. Applications can be submitted independently, but it is highly recommended to do so through a licensed Israeli attorney that expert in tracing unclaimed Israeli lands.

Although we have focused on Israeli real estate thus far, there are many other types of abandoned assets in Israel that can be classified as “unclaimed assets“. Examples of such assets are funds provided for pension, provident funds, education funds, life insurance policies, executive insurance policies, dormant bank accounts, various saving plans, dividends and stocks, to name a few. These funds can be held and/or managed by financial institutions, insurance companies, pension funds, hospitals, clinics, corporations, government agencies and Israeli government corporations.

Given the complicated bureaucracy in these institutions and the due diligence required entering into this procedures, only a very competent, diligent attorney familiar with the Israeli real estate and the Israeli inheritance process will significantly alleviate the various inevitable obstacles encountered throughout the process.

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