Photo Credit: Deposit Photos / Opolion Law
The Kinneret

Chanukah is the ideal holiday to contemplate an Israeli inheritance windfall. Many people dream of winning the lottery, but few people realize that they may already hold the winning ticket, by having rights to long forgotten Israeli property.

  • It could be a forgotten Israeli bank account.
  • It could be an Israeli inheritance order with your parent’s name on it and for one reason or another your parent never signed the paperwork to receive that inheritance.
  • It could be the jackpot – land in Migdal purchased in the 1920’s or 1930’s with views of the Kinneret.

These are just three examples of the myriad types of forgotten property. The State of Israel manages these properties, via the Israeli Administrator General (the “AG”), on behalf of the absentee owners, which according to the AG number over 17,000! The AG is also tasked with finding the heirs of such absentee owners.

An ad from the 1930s to buy real estate in Israel. Courtesy: Opolion Law

You might get lucky and get a letter from the Israeli AG alerting you to the unclaimed property. Then you have the chance to prove your relationship to the absentee owner and release the property. Our office specializes in dealing with these unique release cases, which often encompass a few families over multiple generations.

Let’s back up a minute though – this is about heir hunters contacting you!

What is an heir hunter?

A heir hunter is a private individual, who actively seeks out descendants, in the hope of ultimately getting paid a finder’s fee; and it’s a hefty one, usually one third of the value of the land. A heir hunter will contact you and tell you that they have found a piece of land that they believe is titled in the name of your ancestor. I specify land, because heir hunters will only contact you regarding land, because there is often a buyer in the background, who hopes to purchase the land below market value.

Heir hunters do not have much interest in seeking you out if the AG is managing money for your relative. However, you certainly want to know if your relative is an absentee owner with money managed by the Israeli AG. A nice bonus is that releasing money to heirs is a shorter process than releasing land to heirs.

Heir hunters will try to convince you to sign a finder’s fee agreement and an Israeli power of attorney before you’ve had a chance to digest this major news. The heir hunter will not disclose the location, size or legal description of the property until you agree to sign the “finder’s fee agreement.”

Now, I know that it’s exciting to find out that you may be entitled to land in Israel – but this is the time to take a breath and remember that this is a significant and lengthy legal matter. So, don’t rush to sign documents, without looking into it yourself.

Find out if you have a relative on the list of absentee owners managed by the Israeli AG, and whether the AG is holding money or land for that relative. Visit our website and contact us here for more information:


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