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78. Estates - Nachalos

The order of inheritance is son, daughter, and father [as it says "If a man dies and has no son you shall pass his estate to his daughter..."1]. If an heir is no longer alive his heirs inherit in his place in the same sequence. Rabbinically, a husband has prior claim to his wife's estate, but this priority does not pass to his heirs if he predeceases her. If a child predeceases his mother his descendants can inherit from her in his place but his heirs through the father cannot.a

If there are two or more equal heirs they share equally, but if they are sons and one is the father's first child he gets a double share of the father's estate, as it says "[He shall recognize the firstborn...] to give him twofold".2 Until the heirs have divided the estate they are like partners in all respects. A man who enters into levirate marriage with his brother's wife inherits the brother's estate, as it says "He shall maintain the name of his dead brother".3,b

One can bypass the order of inheritance by giving his estate away while he is still alive in the form of gifts effective at his death. In this way he can prefer some heirs to others or outsiders to heirs; but this practice should be avoided.c

Sources:

1. Num. 27:8ff a. 1:1-3,8,12-13
2. Deut. 21:17 b. 2:1,8-10; 3:7; 9:1
3. Deut. 25:6 c. 6:5,11



 

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