Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, May 26, 2014

Article on Disappointed ‘Heirs’ as a Socio-Legal Phenomenon

HackerDaphna Hacker (Tel-Aviv University) recently published an article entitled, Disappointed ‘Heirs’ as a Socio-Legal Phenomenon, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2014. Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

This paper focuses on the socio-legal characteristics of succession battles, drawn from a large-scale empirical study of contemporary inheritance and probate procedures and conflicts in Israel. The study shows that litigating disappointed "heirs", i.e. people who challenge the division of the estate because their inheritance hopes have been shattered, are an exception to the rule of undisputed probate and administration of estates. Moreover, the findings point to the will as a risk factor which allows disappointed "heirs" to approach the court, while legal disputes in intestate cases are even scarcer. Based on the findings, the paper also offers a typology of the relational triangles – between the deceased, the alleged heirs, and the disappointed "heirs" – which characterize most of the cases studied. This typology is correlated to the finding that most succession conflicts are not among nuclear family members, but among parties who are remote relatives or with no family relation. Finally, the study documents two dominant outcomes of succession battles: out-of-court compromises that do not respect the prima facie deceased's last wishes; and the irreversible destruction of relationships between siblings. The paper ends with a discussion of the sociological question concerning the possible increase or decrease of the phenomenon of disappointed "heirs", and of the legal implications of the study's findings.


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