Feuerstein Tayar, Bekerman Efrati Law Office is a boutique law firm specializing in family, estate, and guardianship law. The firm focuses on the inter-generational transfer of family funds and financial management of high net worth families, using various legal tools such as prenuptial contracts, wills, establishments of trusts, and enduring power of attorney agreements.
The firm was established in 2013 as a result of a merger between the firms led by Shelley Feuerstein and Shlomit Bekerman Efrati. The two well-known attorneys, who have a combined total of more than 30 years of professional experience, are trusted by the Israeli courts and are held in high regard.
Shlomit Bekerman Efrati explains that the firm advises clients to look beyond the monetary value of their assets and focus on the most important asset – the family itself.
“One of our principles,” she says, “is that when creating a will or an enduring power of attorney agreement, the value is not just in the house or large sums of money. One of the assets that we want to preserve is the family relationship to avoid arguments and disputes within the family.”
She adds that the firm advises its clients to practice “preventive” law and to have documents such as wills and enduring power of attorney agreements prepared while the family members are healthy and the familial relationships are in a good state.
“Just as in preventive medicine, people have annual check-ups to prevent emergencies, we tell families that when it comes to legal documents, they should start early when everyone is in good health,” she says.
Shelley Feuerstein Tayar says that wills should be crafted according to the family’s specific needs. The primary goal in creating a will is not to restrict the beneficiary but to prevent the loss of the family’s capital, ensuring that the family wealth is passed on to the next generation. This type of protection can be required if, for example, the surviving spouse has reached a state of cognitive decline and is at risk of being taken advantage of by other family members or third parties.
Another common scenario is if the surviving spouse has remarried and later dies. Under such circumstances, it can be difficult to remove the second partner from the home that he or she shared with the deceased. Through a will, it is possible to establish protective mechanisms that stipulate that the new spouse must leave the home upon the death of the spouse.
The firm also specializes in minimizing tax exposure to beneficiaries of Israeli wills who live in a foreign country that considers the will to be a taxable asset. One consideration that must be taken into account when drafting a will is the tax issues that may apply at the time of death. The amount of tax is a function of several variables, such as the residency and citizenship of the deceased and the type and location of the assets. With intelligent planning, it is possible to save significant tax costs and establish in advance, within the framework of the will and outside it, mechanisms to reduce the tax liability. For example, testators of a will who are not US citizens, who have most of their possessions in Israel and have a child who is a US citizen, may want to consider bequeathing their possessions directly to the children of that child (their grandchildren), to save a future tax event when their child who is living in the US dies, and the property will pass to their grandchildren.
The firm also specializes in drawing up enduring power of attorney documents. They are crafted for a time when one enters that stage of life when it is difficult or impossible to make independent decisions due to ill health, such as dementia, or even for a limited time after an accident. Someone who becomes incapacitated without signing such an agreement loses the legal right to make decisions regarding financial matters, place of residence, and level of care. An enduring power of attorney agreement enables family members to make decisions on behalf of the person who has become incapacitated.
“This document gives people greater control over their lives,” explains Bekerman Efrati, “and it retains their privacy and autonomy, keeping matters within the family and outside the purview of the court.”
Feuerstein Tayar and Bekerman Efrati are on the front lines of family law on a daily basis. “We do it in court every day in the areas of wills and guardianship. We have practical experience in these issues,” says Bekerman Efrati.
The pair frequently lecture on these subjects and work with experts in all relevant fields to obtain the necessary information.