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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • INHERITANCE PROCEEDINGS

  • Inheritance Proceedings
     
    Consuls  do not handle inheritance cases for Polish citizens in their host countries as of May 10, 2002. Consuls are limited to securing and acquiring estates for the State Treasury. For more information concerning the processing of inheritance cases in the United States, contact a law firm of your choice.
     
    Declaration of acceptance or rejection of an estate
    Pursuant to Article 1012 of the Civil Code, an heir has the right to:
     
    1) accept the estate without limitation of liability for debts owed by the estate (simple acceptance);
    2) accept the estate with limited liability (with the benefit of inventory, i.e., acceptance of liability limited to the level of net assets); or
    3) reject the estate.
     
    Since the declaration of acceptance or rejection of the estate carries a significant legal importance, it must be drawn up before a notary or in court. A Polish citizen residing in the United States of America can draw up said declaration individually and have the signature authenticated by the Consulate or a notary public. When authenticating the signature by a notary public, it is also necessary to obtain an Apostille. Please remember that the Consul will only verify the authenticity of the person’s signature. The signed statement will take effect only when filed with the inheritance court within the deadline, which, pursuant to Article 1015 of the Civil Code, means six months from the day on which the heir became aware of entitlement to the estate.
     
    Pursuant to Article 641 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the declaration on accepting or rejecting the estate should include:
    1) the full name of the deceased, the date and place of death and the deceased’s last place of residence;
    2) the entitlement to inherit;
    3) the contents of the filed declaration.
     
    The statement should also list all statutory heirs participating in the estate who are known to the person filing the declaration, as well as any wills and testaments, even if the person making the declaration regards them as invalid, and information about their contents and the place they are archived.
     
     
    An alternative solution is to grant a power of attorney in writing with an officially authenticated signature for a person who will make the statement in Poland on the heir’s behalf.
     
    Rejection or acceptance of an estate on behalf of a minor
     
    Acceptance or rejection of an estate is one of the actions deemed as exceeding the scope of ordinary management of a minor’s property. Therefore, pursuant to Article 101.3 of the Family and Guardianship Code, permission granted by the Family Court is required. The Court grants permission upon the request of either parent or one parent after hearing the other. In deciding the case, the Court takes into consideration the legality of the action and its expediency, verifying that the minor’s property will not suffer any loss as a result of the acceptance or rejection of the estate. The permission, if granted, entitles the parents to accept or reject the estate on the minor’s behalf under general applicable rules.
     
    A valid proof of identity will be required when visiting the Consulate. When planning the date of your visit, you should take into account the six-month mandatory time window for the acceptance or rejection of an estate, indicated above.
     
    CHANGES TO PROVISIONS GOVERNING LIABILITY FOR ESTATE DEBTS—APPLICABLE TO ESTATES 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 estate debts.
     
    1. Changes with regard to acceptance and rejection of an estate
    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 estate. Where the heir failed to make the appropriate declaration within that deadline, it was assumed that the estate 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 estate is accepted with the benefit of inventory and therefore with limited liability for estate debts (Article 1015.2 CC). For example, if the value of the net assets is PLN 250,000 and estate 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 estates 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.
     
    2. 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 estate and vindicatory bequests, specifying their value according to the balance and prices as of the date of opening of the estate, as well as estate debts and their value as of the date of opening of the estate. 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 estate 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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