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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • INHERITANCE PROCEEDINGS

  • General information

    Consul do not handle inheritance cases for Polish citizens in the receiving state. Consul's duties involve securing and acquiring the inheritance or other properties only for the State Treasury. To get more information about the way an inheritance case should be handled within the United States, please contact with a law firm of your choice.

    Pursuant to art. 1012 of the Civil Code, a heir has the right to accept inheritance without limited liability for the inheritance debts (straightforward acceptance), to accept the inheritance with limited liability (acceptance of inheritance up to the level of net assets), or to reject the inheritance.

    Since the declaration on acceptance or rejection of inheritance can be considered as a document of great legal importance, it must be drawn up before a notary or in a court. A  Polish citizen residing in the United States of America can draw up this declaration individually being subsequently obliged to verify authenticity of signature at the Consulate or at a notary public.

    While verifying authenticity of signature at a notary public, it is also crucial to get an Apostille. It is very important to remember that Consuls will only verify the authenticity of a person’s own signature. Not until the signed declaration is submitted in the court within six months from the day on which a heir learnt about his entitlement to the inheritance (pursuant to art. 1015 of the Civil Code), does it come into effect.

     

    Pursuant to art. 641 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the declaration on accepting or rejecting the inheritance should contain:

    1. the first name and surname of the bequeather, the date and place of his death and the his last place of residence
    2. the entitlement to participate in the inheritance;
    3. the contents of the declaration made.

    The declaration should also contain a specification of all persons, who the person  making the declaration, is aware of, and who are within the group of statutory heirs, and also of all wills, even if the person making the declaration regards them as invalid.

     

    Rejection or acceptance of inheritance on behalf of minors

    Accepting or rejecting the inheritance is said to exceed regular administration of minors’ property.

    Accepting or rejecting the inheritance is said to exceed the bounds of regular administration of minors’ property. Therefore, pursuant to art. 101 § 3 of the Family and Guardianship Code, permission granted by the Family Court is required.

    The Court grants permission upon the request of both parents or one parent after the other parent’s oral statement. While hearing the case, the Court takes into consideration the legality of the proceedings and the need for the case. The Court verifies if minor’s inheritance is not subject to any kind of loss during the process of accepting or rejecting the inheritance. The granted permission entitles to make the declaration on acceptance or rejection of inheritance on minor’s behalf based on applicable law.

     

    Declaration of rejection of an inheritance

     

    CHANGES TO PROVISIONS GOVERNING LIABILITY FOR INHERITANCE DEBTS—APPLICABLE TO INHERITANCE OPENED AFTER OCTOBER 17, 2015

     

    On October 18, 2015 an amendment to the Act of April 23, 1964—Civil Code (Journal of Laws, 2014.121, as amended) came into force, introducing significant changes, in particular with regard to liability for inheritance debts.

     

    1. Changes with regard to acceptance and rejection of inheritance

    The time limit for acceptance or rejection under the previous provisions in force was six months after the day the heir became aware of entitlement to inheritance. Where the heir failed to make the appropriate declaration within that deadline, it was assumed that the inheritance was accepted without limited liability (simple acceptance).

    Said amendment is based on a different principle, according to which, if the heir fails to make any declarations within the statutory time limit, it shall mean that the inheritance is accepted with the benefit of inventory and therefore with limited liability for inheritance debts (Article 1015.2 CC). For example, if the value of the net assets is PLN 250,000 and inheritance debt adds up to PLN 500,000, then the creditors of the deceased are only entitled to claim PLN 250,000 from the heir who accepted the inheritance with the ”benefit of inventory.”

    The above means that, in respect of inheritance opened after October 17, 2015, the Consul will proceed with the actions related to the heirs’ declaration of  a simple acceptance or rejection  of the inheritance.

    1. New feature—a so-called private inventory list

    The aforementioned amendment to the Civil Code also introduces a new convention in the form of an inventory list, in which the heir specifies the assets which are part of the inheritance (Articles 1031.1–1031.4). The due diligence list must disclose items belonging to the inheritance and vindicatory bequests, specifying their value according to the balance and prices as of the date of opening of the inheritance, as well as inheritance debts and their value as of the date of opening of the inheritance. This list, therefore, represents a specific sum of money.

    The list can be filed on the appropriate form in court or drawn up at a notary office. The Consul cannot prepare or accept said inventory list. The heir, after filing the inventory list, shall pay back inheritance debts according to that list, i.e., only up to the value of assets listed therein. There is no statutory time limit for drawing up the list, but it is not recommended to delay this action.

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