Intestate succession / testament / compulsory portion
Intestate succession in Polish inheritance law
The intestate succession finds application, when no (valid) testament exists or the persons, who were appointed as heirs in the testament, disclaimed the heritage. The Polish inheritance law states as legal heirs the surviving spouse and the relatives of the deceased. The law gives priority to the closest relatives, over more distant family members. The Polish inheritance law divides the relatives entitled to the inheritance in different groups.
The children of the deceased and his surviving spouse are in first place. Here applies the principle that children and spouse inherit in equal parts, however the part to which the spouse is entitled shall be not less than 1/4. In case if a testator’s child deceased, his descendants inherit the heritage attributable to him to equal parts.
If no descendants of the testator are present, then besides the spouse, the inheritance goes to the parents of the testator. In this case the inheritance attributable to the spouse must correspond to the half of the descendant’s estate. If a parent priorly deceased, the inheritance attributable to this parent goes to siblings of the testator in equal proportions.
If at the time of succession, there are no living descendants of the testator or parents of the testator or their descendants, the surviving spouse receives the entire inheritance. If at the time of succession the only living descendants of the testator are the grandparents, i.e. no closer relatives of the testator as above are alive, the grandparents inherit to equal parts.
The testament in Polish inheritance law
The Testament gives the testator the opportunity to determine a different succession than the intestate succession. The legal succession corresponds in many cases not to the will of the testator.
Clear provisions of a testament help in case of a heritage also to avoid disputes between the relatives i.e. the actual legal heirs. Contrary to German law, the Polish succession law does not permit the establishment of a joint testament. Pursuant to Polish law, a will may contain only the testamentary disposition of one testator.
According to Polish law of succession, a testament is invalid when it was drawn up in a condition excluding the deliberate or free declaration of will. Furthermore, the provisions in a testament are ineffective, when they were made by the testator on a basis of a misunderstanding and it can be presumed that such testamentary provisions would not have been made without this misunderstanding.
A person having interest in the testament may claim the ineffectiveness of it only within a period of three years from the date of notice about the reasons of the ineffectiveness. However this is possible only within a period of ten (10) years from the succession.
Compulsory portion in Polish inheritance law
Due to the freedom of the testator, the legal heirs can be excluded from succession. The principle of kinship-determined succession foresees however that the inheritance remains with the testator’s next of kin.
The right to compulsory portion shall therefore ensure a minimum participation in the heritage for certain legal heirs. Those are descendants and parents of the testator, as well as the spouse are, as far as they would have been appointed as legal heirs in individual cases.
Basically they are entitled to receive half of the legal inheritance. Only in the situation where the members mentioned above are permanently incapacitated for work or a descended is minor at the time of succession, they are entitled to receive 3/4 of the legal inheritance.
The compulsory portion is basically a money claim that must be asserted towards the testamentary heir(s).
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