Succession under Talmudic Law

The common law of inheritance is largely derived from ecclesiastical law – which is derived from Judaism. As the role of ecclesiastical courts has diminished the Talmudic tradition of inheritance remains interesting, as it is the common religious root of both systems. The Jewish system of succession as set out in the Torah follows the paternal line.

“If a man die and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren. And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father’s brethren. And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family and he shall possess it. And it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the Lord commanded Moses” (Numbers 27: 8-11)

Therefore under Talmudic law succession of an estate flows firstly to:

  • the deceased’s children and their descendants, if none then;
  • the deceased’s father and his descendants, if none then;
  • the grandfather and his descendants.

The deceased mother’s family is not regarded as kin for the purposes of inheritance however Sons may inherit their mother’s estate.

Only in the absence of a male heir does a daughter inherit. Similarly if the Father has no sons he must ensure that his daughter marries one of his Kinsmen.

Interestingly, his children take the place of a son who predeceases his father therefore if the deceased is survived by a daughter and a son’s daughter; the inheritance is shared between the deceased’s daughter and his granddaughter

Except in the case of twins or where a firstborn male is born after the death of his father he is entitled to the double portion from his father’s estate however this does not apply to daughters who inherit in the absence of sons. If the firstborn predeceases his father, his heirs take the double share, which he would otherwise have inherited from his father’s estate.

Therefore if the deceased is survived by five sons including the firstborn, the estate would be divided into six portions with the first born taking two-sixths of the estate, and the other four heirs taking one-sixth each.

As with Islamic law it is important that a Jewish person who wishes to follow the Talmudic tradition in inheritance create a Will as the intestacy provisions under the various jurisdictions divide an estate much differently.



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