9) Fluctuations in the value of the estate

What if, before giving her her portion, the sons of the deceased worked with the estate and as a result it increased in value? Does the daughter take a share of the profits as well?

In general, if someone works on land belonging to someone else without being requested to, he may receive either his expenses or the amount of resulting profit, whichever is the smaller amount. In this case, though, writes the Mahara”m Padua[52], the daughter does not receive any of the profits. The reason is that she does not automatically own any of the estate when the father dies. The sons are obliged to either pay up the exorbitant debt or give her a portion of the estate, but until they actually do so it does not belong to her. As such, it was their property that increased in value, and not hers.

Furthermore, although at the time that they do give her her share, the estate is now worth more, she still receives no share in the increase seeing as the condition for cancelling the debt was that she should be given the equivalent of a half-share in the value of the estate at the time that the father died. What happens to the estate after that point is of no concern to her. [This is only with regard to changes to the estate itself; if however an inheritance subsequently falls to the father it may be regarded as a new estate of the father’s in which the daughter also takes a share – see “Ro’uy” above.]

The Chavos Ya’ir[53] comes to a similar conclusion, that the daughters get their share according to the value of the estate at the time that the father died, not at the time when they actually divide up the estate[54], and says that this is the opinion of most Poskim. Even the Mahara”m Lublin[55], he adds, who appears to hold that we estimate her share according to the value of the estate at the time that we divide it up, only so rules because in his text of the Shtar Chatzi Zochor it says that she gets a half-share of the estate, without stating explicitly that this refers to the estate at the time of death. Nowadays, though, the standard text of the Shtar Chatzi Zochor is explicit, that her share is estimated according to the value of the estate at the moment that the father dies.

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