Hacker, Daphna. “The Rights of the Dead through the Prism of Israeli Succession Disputes.” International Journal of Law in Context 11.1 (2015): 40-58.
This paper aims at contributing to the evolving debate over the rights of the dead by providing it with concrete empirical socio-legal context. A pioneering study of succession disputes, conducted in Israel, exposes a gap between a prominent judicial promise to respect the wishes and guard the dignity of the deceased testator, and the actual action taking place behind this rhetoric. The findings reveal that the testator’s dignity and wishes are trampled during testamentary procedures, when demeaning allegations about his or her mental and physical competence are allowed, and personal and medical information is exposed, and when the judge approves settlements that diverge from the testator’s last will in the name of familial reconciliation, even though in most cases there are no nuclear family ties between the rival parties. These findings are discussed in the light of an original typology mapping the theoretical controversies over posthumous rights, to highlight some of the possible normative implications of the project for the law on the books and law in action related to property division after death.