Polish inheritance law follows the rule of general succession. When someone dies, survivors receive the estate through inheritance. Inheritance is the process by which ownership of the assets of a deceased person is transferred to survivors. It’s up to the individual to decide who receives specific assets by naming persons or organizations as heirs or beneficiaries. When someone dies without making a Will, a probate court must determine who are the heirs on the basis of the statutory rules.
There are two ways under Polish law to inherit someone else’s estate – either through a Will or through statutory rules when there isn’t a Will.
How Inheritance Works When There’s a Will
A last will and testament is a legal instrument that details an individual’s final wishes in regards to how their property and assets are dispersed after their death. The Will is a detailed set of instructions naming heirs and beneficiaries to a person’s estate and exactly what property and assets each person will receive. A Will is unique because it allows the individual to divide up all property and assets and disperse them to a wide variety of heirs that can include:
- family members,
- charities, or
- any other organization the individual deems worthy of receiving his assets.
Wills are popular because they are relatively easy to create and do not have a stringent set of legal requirements in order to be effective.
For the inheritance process to begin, a Will must be submitted to probate. The probate court reviews a Will and legally transfers assets to heirs as outlined.
How Inheritance Works When There Isn’t a Will
Inheritance becomes more complicated if the deceased did not outline asset distribution before death. In that case, a probate court must determine who are the heirs on the basis of the statutory rules in the Polish Civil Code.
Under Polish law, when someone dies, his spouse and children are the first in line to receive the estate through inheritance. In the absence of the spouse and children, the next in line are grandchildren and great grandchildren. If they did not survive the testator, then the estate goes to the parents of the deceased person. In the absence of the parents, the siblings are next in line. There are many other rules which allow the probate court to decide who are the heirs.
Are Heirs Responsible for the Debts of the Estate?
Polish inheritance law follows the rule of general succession which means that heirs are liable for the debts of the estate. Under the normal circumstances, the heirs are liable for any estate debts up to the value of the assets. The liability of the heirs is joint and several.
Sometimes creditors may attempt to collect debts from the deceased’s family members, so the heirs should cooperate among themselves in this respect. Before the distribution of assets, they should settle any of the deceased’s remaining debts to avoid problems in the future. The value of the estate is calculated on the basis of an inventory of the inherited assets and debts, prepared by the bailiff.
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