Religion & Beliefs

Dead Jews and money

There's no way around it, death sucks.  But sometimes it sucks and sometimes it sucks MORE. Over the last decade I've gotten to see the up-close-and-personal effect of a few very BAD wills.  The kind of wills that divide families, … Read More

By / January 4, 2007

There's no way around it, death sucks.  But sometimes it sucks and sometimes it sucks MORE.

Over the last decade I've gotten to see the up-close-and-personal effect of a few very BAD wills.  The kind of wills that divide families, create silence between siblings, and leave everyone feeling abandoned, when they're already feeling horribly sad.  I've seen a remarriage that results in NO assets being left to the biological children of the departed (the trust was re-written by the new wife to leave everything to the stepkids), and I've seen a parent rewrite her will on her deathbed and intentionally SKIP her children, in an effort to "teach them a lesson".  And what I've gathered from all of this is that last-minute wills are bad, creative wills are bad, and leaving your decisions to the living is BAD.

So I got to talking about this issue with some people, and a friend suggested that the LEAST creative will is the best, because then the family will be able to blame convention instead of Gramps.  Like, "Well, I'm mad my grandma didn't leave me anything, but I guess it makes sense it all went evenly to her kids."  As opposed to situations where someone divies assets up as reward for love and devotion, or according to perceived need.  because then all hell breaks loose.

So today I wanted to see what our religion has to say about wills and inheritance.  I wanted to see if there was a "Jewish" way to break up your estate.  (so we can all blame the religion instead of our parents).  It turns out (of course) that there is… but I'm not sure you're going to like it any more than I do:

  1. If a man dies, his possessions are divided by his sons. His wife can either take her Ketubah or can live off her husband's estate for as long as she wishes.
  2. If there is a firstborn son, he receives a double portion.
  3. The daughters are supported off their father's estate until they get married.
  4. Each daughter receives a dowry from the father's estate.
  5. If there aren't any sons, the estate passes to the daughters.
  6. If a woman dies, her husband inherits all her possessions.
  7. If she has no husband, her sons (or daughters, if there aren't any sons) inherit her possessions.
  8. If one doesn't have any children (or grand-children) the estate goes to the deceased's father.
  9. If the deceased doesn't have a father, the estate goes to the deceased's brothers (or sisters, if there aren't any brothers), or, if they are no longer alive, their descendants.

Now, that's a simplified list, since of course the talmud goes on and on about this issue.  But this list is no help at all (since I'm a girl and shit).  Shall we write an updated Jewcy version?