The will is a legal document that establishes the manner in which the assets and properties of an individual in Poland will be distributed after his or her death. It can be drawn up by Polish nationals but also by non-residents who own property in Poland and wish to oversee its distribution.
Will preparation in Poland
is essentially a straightforward process that can take place under the supervision and with the help of our Polish lawyers
Inheritance in Poland
According to the Polish Inheritance Law, any individual who is above the age of 18, with full capacity and legal rights, may draw up a will in Poland. This document needs to be drawn up according to the Polish regulations and only if the testator (the person creating the will) is in full mental capacity and has the ability to express his or her intent.
According to law, the beneficiaries of a will in Poland
are liable for inheritance taxes. This tax is levied on the value of the Polish property
. The rate of this tax also depends on the relationship between the beneficiaries and the deceased. For example, spouses, children, stepchildren, sons and daughters-in-law, parents, parents-in-law, brothers are sisters are included in the first category of beneficiaries.
For property or assets belonging to a foreign individual who was doing business in Poland, the laws that will apply for inheritance are the laws in the individual’s country or origin. If the deceased has dual nationality, including Polish, then the Polish inheritance law will apply.
Our lawyers can give you more information about the inheritance law as it is stated in the Polish Civil Code
and the Civil Procedure Code. One of the experts at our Polish law firm
can give you complete details on these categories of beneficiaries and the rate of the inheritance tax
The will or last testament in Poland
A will in Poland needs to be drawn up before a notary. In this case, it will be prepared in a notary office. Another type of will is the holographic will, which is the one drawn up the testator himself, signed and dated. The allographic will is the oral will, left by the testator who makes his final wishes in the presence of two witnesses.
Individuals who were not included in the will and have the right to part of the assets may contest the will
in accordance with the Polish law. This step can be handled by one of our Polish lawyers
You can contact the experts at our Polish law
firm for complete assistance for drawing up wills. We can answer your questions regarding about the inheritance laws and your legal rights as heirs in Poland.
Individuals in Poland who have been left out of a will or those who are the actual heirs can contest a will in Poland and gain rightful rights to the properties or assets passed on by the deceased.
Reasons to contest a will in Poland
There are many reasons to contest a will
, however, the heirs who are ready to make such a legal claim must prepare a set of documents that will act as evidence in court. Our Polish lawyers
can help you make and present your case in court.
The legal rights of a person who should have been the successor are not always truthfully represented in the will. This may be an honest mistake of the individual who left his assets behind or it may be intentional. While the will expressly states the final wishes of a person, living relatives may contest its provisions in court.
Common reasons for contesting a will include:
- the will is not valid: it was not drawn up in the presence of a notary,
- an individual was left out of the will,
- the will was unjust,
or foreign individuals who are entitled to receive all or part of certain Polish assets may take a case to court even if there is no will available. In this case, the property and assets will be divided according to the priority established by law. This is called statutory inheritance and the family members who are the first to inherit the assets are the spouse and the children of the testator.
Intestacy in Poland
Succession planning is based on the will and arranging for this document to be prepared in advance is the most suitable manner in which an individual can make sure that his or her assets are distributed in a certain manner once he passes away. However, when no will is drawn up, the assets are divided among the family members in a certain order, as per the Civil Code.
When the deceased did not outline the preferred manner of asset distribution in a will, the statutory rules will apply, most often following the procedures that take place in court. The following family members can inherit:
spouse and children: when the deceased was married, with children; when the children do not outlive him/her, the grandchildren or great-grandchildren inherit;
spouse and parents: if the deceased has no children but was married, the assets will then belong to the spouse and the surviving parents;
spouse and one of the parents or siblings: in those cases in which the siblings outlive the deceased; when his is not the case, the descendants of the siblings inherit;
grandparents: when there are no other living relatives; however, if they pass away, their descendants will inherit (the uncles and aunts of the deceased);
stepchildren: when none of the above apply, the stepchildren of the deceased will inherit.
If no living relatives remain, and no stepchildren, the assets of the deceased will be inherited by the municipality.
The only manner in which this order of inheritance can be controlled in through a written will in which the individual will express his or her particular preference for the distribution of assets. In the presence of a will, there is no mandatory order in which the assets are distributed and, in practice, the friends can also receive parts of the assets, as well as any other charity or organization that the individual sees fit.
For a will to be used on court, it must be properly submitted to probate, after which the Court
will review it and start the process of distributing the assets accordingly.
If you would like to know more about succession in the absence of a will in Poland, our team of lawyers can give you more information about statutory succession.
Legal assistance in special succession cases
Legal counsel, assistance and representation in inheritance cases is useful in Poland whether or not there is a will present. What’s more, the role of an attorney is essential when the will was prepared outside of Poland and it concerns real property located in the country.
Working with a team of lawyers in Poland specializing in inheritance is helpful in many cases and it can be even more important for Poles living outside of the country. According to Statistics Poland, most of the Poles who leave the country do so in other EU countries. The data highlights the following about Polish emigrants:
Poles living in other countries: between 2000 and 2019, 190,000 to 276,000 people departed from the country on an annual basis;
Poles studying abroad: more than 8,000 Poles studies in British universities during the indicated period, and approximately 5,000 in Germany;
Polish families abroad: between 2005 and 2019, 263,000 children were born in the UK whose mother was born in Poland;
Poles who obtain foreign citizenship: more than 23,5 thousand people applies for citizenship in another EU country; 9.6 thousand applied for British citizenship.
As the data shows, in the context of more Poles living abroad, succession matters concerning property located in Poland are an issue that can be explored more easily with the help of a local team of lawyers in Poland who can also help foreign nationals who have inheritance rights and are included in a will in Poland. Another special situation for which our attorneys can provide legal assistance is that in which a foreign national becomes an heir in Poland through marriage.
As far as the validity of a will prepared outside of Poland is concerned, for example in the United Kingdom, where the family has been living for a number of years and perhaps has even gained citizenship, the provisions of the Polish Civil Code will apply. This is because, as previously stated, when the individual has dual nationality, the Polish laws apply.
A foreign heir who wishes to sell property located in Poland obtained through inheritance will need to obtain a ruling from a Polish court as well as a succession certification that is drawn up by a notary public in Poland. If you are based abroad and have inherited property in the country, the experts at our law firm in Poland can assist you with more information as needed.
If you need legal counselling regarding inheritance (drafting a will in Poland
or other legal services) and other family law matters in Poland please contact our Polish lawyers