This factsheet was prepared in cooperation with the Council of the Notariats of the EU (CNUE).
Under Polish law, the disposition of property upon death can be drawn up only in the form of a will. However, joint wills are prohibited. The following forms of wills are accepted:
As far as agreements on succession are concerned, only agreements on waiver of succession are accepted. Such an agreement may be concluded by the future testator and the statutory heir and requires the form of a notarial deed to be valid.
A will need not be registered to be valid. Wills drawn up in the form of a notarial deed or deposited with a notary may be registered at the National Council of Notaries (Krajowa Rada Notarialna).
No restrictions on a testator’s freedom to name an heir or heirs are imposed under Polish legislation. The right to a reserved share also does not restrict a testator’s freedom to dispose of his or her property but protects the interests of the testator’s closest relatives and spouse, who are entitled to payment of a specific sum of money.
The following rules apply in the absence of a will:
If the deceased was not married and had no children, his or her parents inherit. If one of the parents is deceased at the time of the opening of the succession, that parent’s share is divided equally among the testator’s siblings. If one of the testator’s siblings died before the opening of the succession, leaving descendants, his or her share is divided equally among the descendants. If there are no siblings or their descendants, the entire inheritance is divided equally among the testator’s grandparents. If one of the grandparents is deceased at the time of the opening of the succession, that grandparent’s share is inherited by his or her descendants. If a grandparent who died before the opening of the succession has no descendants, his or her share is divided equally among other grandparents. If there are no relatives entitled to receive the inheritance by statute, the inheritance goes to the municipality of the testator’s last residence. If it is impossible to determine where the testator last resided in Poland or if the testator resided abroad, the inheritance goes to the State Treasury.
If the deceased was not married and leaves children, only those children inherit.
If the deceased leaves a spouse, that spouse becomes the sole heir if there are no descendants, parents, siblings or siblings’ descendants.
If the deceased leaves a spouse and children, the inheritance is divided equally among them. However, the spouse cannot receive less than a quarter of the inheritance. If the deceased leaves a spouse with whom he or she had a statutory joint ownership established, the surviving spouse receives half of the joint property for the termination of joint ownership, while the other half forms part of the deceased’s inheritance.
An applicant should refer to a notary or the court having jurisdiction over the testator’s last place of residence.
Declarations of waiver or acceptance of the succession are submitted before the court having jurisdiction over the place of residence or stay of the person submitting a declaration, or before a notary. In the case of persons residing abroad, such declarations may be received by consuls.
The authorities specified in the previous question.
There are no reserves under Polish law. However, payment of a reserved share, i.e. of an appropriate sum of money, may be claimed. Declarations of waiver or acceptance of a reserved share are not submitted.
A person who wishes to obtain a document confirming his or her status as an heir may either submit an application for a court declaration of inheritance acquisition or obtain a registered act confirming succession from a notary. If there are several heirs, the estate may be divided, at their request, by a court in proceedings for the winding-up of the estate or by a notary under an agreement for the winding-up of the estate in the form of a notarial deed.
A person becomes an heir or legatee respectively upon the opening of the succession under the law (however, the succession may be waived).
In principle, an heir bears unlimited liability for the deceased’s debts. An heir may limit his or her liability in this regard by accepting the inheritance with the benefit of inventory. In such a case, an heir should make an appropriate declaration before a notary or the competent court within six months from the date on which he or she became aware of the inheritance. Heirs are jointly liable for the deceased’s debts.
In order to enter immovable property forming part of the inheritance in a land and mortgage register, the heir must, as a rule, present documents confirming his or her status as an heir, i.e. a court declaration confirming inheritance acquisition or a notarial certificate of succession.
Firstly, under Polish law, an administrator of the estate may be appointed ex officio or upon request when, for any reason, there is a risk that the estate will not be distributed as intended. To that end, the interested party should submit an application to the court having jurisdiction over the testator’s property to demonstrate that he or she is an heir or legatee, or is entitled to a reserved share. An application may also be submitted by the executor of a will, a co-owner of property, a person jointly entitled to the testator’s rights, a creditor with a written proof of debt against the testator, or a tax office.
Secondly, in the case of unclaimed inheritance, a court appoints, ex officio or upon request, an administrator of the estate.
In his or her will, a testator may appoint the executor, who will administer the estate after the testator’s death.
The executor of a will should administer the estate, pay debts under the succession, in particular execute bequests and instructions, and subsequently distribute the estate to heirs in accordance with the will and the relevant legislation and, in any case, immediately after the winding-up of the estate.
The executor may sue and be sued in matters arising from the administration of the estate, its organised part or a specified asset. He or she may also sue in matters relating to rights forming part of the inheritance and be sued in matters relating to debts under the succession.
The executor should also issue the subject of a specific bequest to the person to which such a bequest was made.
A person who is a statutory heir must submit copies of appropriate civil status documents to demonstrate his or her relationship to the deceased (e.g. birth certificate, marriage certificate). An heir or legatee should submit a will to demonstrate his or her rights to the inheritance.
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