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Polish inheritance law in Canada

8 Jan 2017 #1
I'm a Canadians citizen and my wife is Polish. We have a 5 year old daughter born in Canada. We live in Canada. In 2016 we were made aware that an aunt (whom non of us know)of my wife died in 2014 and that the aunts children grandchildren and great grandchildren rejected the estate. My wife also rejected the estate when we were in Poland for a visit. We also requested the court to grant us the authority to act on behalf of our daughter to reject the estate.

We recently received a letter from the court in Warsaw requesting us to appear in the court as well as provide evidence that the estate of the deceased aunt had more debts than assets. We do not have ability to obtain this evidence as the children of the deceased either does not have the list of debts or they do not want to share it with my Mother in law who lives in Poland. The Warsaw court is also asking my mother in asking our address in Canada.

I don't speak read or understand Polish.
In Canadian law the debt of dead relatives are not transferred to relatives. I also asked the Courts not to contact me when we asked permission to act for my daughter.

My questions are
1. Do we need to go to Poland? We cant just drop everything here and fly to Poland.
2. What happens if we do not show up in court?
3. Do I need to give our Canadian address?
4. If the court does not give us permission to act for our daughter does it mean she is now liable?
5. Will the creditors harass us in Canada? This is a 5 year old who barely reads English and does not understand polish at all.

There would be thousands of Poles in Canada who would have had dead relatives in Poland who would have debts. Would all Canadian Poles need to reject the debts or their ancestors?

We really would appreciate your help.
cms 9 | 1,255
8 Jan 2017 #2
Assuming your daughter is not a Polish citizen then the Polish courts will not be able to establish jurisdiction over her. Highly unlikely that a creditor would pursue that case.

If she is a Polish citizen then it might be necessary to renounce the inheritance on her behalf
20 Jun 2017 #3

Polish Inheritance - Canadian Resident

I just learned that my uncle in Poland passed away in January 2014. I came across a civil court document through a Google search as I was trying to find my uncle. The document included my sisters name and my name in it together with a few other individuals who appear to be making a claim on his assets. The document is dated June 1, 2016 and indicates that people must come forward within 6 months. The only asset I believe he had was an apartment in Sopot that my grandmother bought for him. We have a will that made with my sister and I as the beneficiaries of the apartment.

We don't know what to do now. I have tried contacting the civil court in Sopot but can not get through. I believe our distant relatives did not let us know of his passing as they intended on claiming his assets without our knowledge. My sister and I live in Canada. Nobody has made any attempt to notify or contact us. We are trying to figure out where this matter stands in the courts, what has happened to his assets and what rights we have. If the assets were disposed of, do we have any recourse?
terri 1 | 1,663
20 Jun 2017 #4
Your relatives have pulled a fast one.
As you did not come within the 6 months, the assets would now have been divided between those individuals who made a claim on the estate. You must find a lawyer in Poland who will take your case on. Make sure it is a lawyer who understands wills.

You must do something NOW. If you know the address in Sopot find out how much the asset would be worth. But no matter, it is certainly worth engaging a good lawyer - the relatives have cheated you. Unless, of course they thought that you are rich enough and will not need be bothered with such things.

If they had your address and have failed to notify you, - then it is fraud.
20 Jun 2017 #5
OMG ... that's what I thought. I have already reached out to the civil court that posted the notice and have contacted several local law firms in Poland and am still waiting to hear back from them.

The thing is that they named my sister and I by our full names in the notice and asked we come forward. Are they not obligated to search for us if they had the will that names us ... this is the only way I can think of that they knew or names.

It's so confusing. And if he passed away in January 2014, why was the notice filed only in June 2016 (the notice asking for people to come forward). Also, that notice states that someone from the court has been appointed to represent my sister and I but I have no clue what that entails.

These were not even relatives. One was a girlfriend and the other is a very very distant cousin.
20 Jun 2017 #6
And is it legal to post names of non-residents locally and assume they will come forward? Are you not obligated to search for them? His girlfriend and the cousin knew we lived in Canada ... and if you google my name my linked in profile is the first thing that comes up. Doesn't seem right or legal to me ... especially if there is a will.
20 Jun 2017 #7

Polish Inheritance - Canadian Resident (in Polish)

Okay I need more help.

Here is the text from the letter ... can someone let me know what this means? I have translated it but it still doesn't make sense to me. I have was going to blank out the names but what's the use ... it's on the internet already.

Sid Rejonowy w Sopocie Wydzial I Cywilny w sprawie Moniki Serockiej z udzialem Ireny Puton, Jaroslawa Puton, Elizabeth Mary Sa, Evy M. o stwierdzenie nabycia spadku po Kazimierzu Kmieciak, zwraca sic z uprzejmq progbq o zamieszczenie na stronie internetowej tut. Sqdu tre§ci nastepujqcych ogloszen na okres 14 dni:

Na mocy art. 144 k.p.c ustanowiono kuratora w osobie Alicji Kaimierczak (pracownika Sadu Rejonowego w Sopocie), do zastypowania w Sqdzie Rejonowym w Sopocie Elizabeth Mary SI - w sprawie z wniosku Moniki Serockiej o stwierdzenie nabycia spadku po Kazimierzu Kmieciak osygnaturze akt I Ns 310/14.

Wniosek i inne pisma, wymagajqce dokonania czynnoki procesowej, dorgezone bcdq do rqk kuratora az do chwili zgloszenia sig zastcpowanej strony lub osoby, uprawnionej do jej zastepowania.

Na mocy art. 144 k.p.c ustanowiono kuratora w osobie Anny Rutkowskiej (pracownika Sqdu Rejonowego w Sopocie), do zastepowania w Sqdzie Rejonowym w Sopocie Evy M.

- w sprawie z wniosku Moniki Serockiej o stwierdzenie nabycia spadku po Kazimierzu Kmieciak
osygnaturze akt I Ns 310/14.
Wniosek i inne pisma, wymagajqce dokonania czynnogei procesowej, doryczone bcdq do rqk kuratora az do chwili zgloszenia sie tastcpowanej strony lub osoby, uprawnionej do jej zastypowania.

What are we talking about here??

Please keep to one thread
inkrakow 1 | 98
21 Jun 2017 #8
It's an instruction to post an announcement on the website to say that on the basis of art. 144 of the Civil Code, the court has appointed Alicja Kaimierczak to represent Elizabeth Mary Sl, and Monika Serocka to represent Eva M. in the matter of the estate of Kazimierz Kmieciak in the Sopot Regional Court. All correspondence relating to this matter will be sent to these two representatives until the persons (or their authorised representatives) come forward.

Looks like these two people haven't quite been cheated as they have been recognised as interested parties by the court. Instruct a lawyer to represent you in this case - Polish law doesn't work in the same way as common law based countries in the matter of inheritance.
21 Jun 2017 #9
Thanks for your reply. It just seems odd that nobody has contacted us.

I have e-mailed the civil court in Sopot and have provided them with a copy of the original notarized will.

We have also retained a lawyer to perform an initial review of the files to understand what has happened and next steps.

Can anyone tell me how burials work in Poland? We just found a photo of my uncles grace site online. Looks like her was buried with strangers. How does this happen? Is it because nobody came forward to pay for his burial? How does it work?
22 Jun 2017 #10
Hi again... as I've been digesting dates and the series of events that I'm aware of, things are not adding up.

My uncle passed away on Jan 10/2014. The court only posted a notice for heirs to come forward on Sep 21 2015. That notice says heirs must come forward withing six months. Then the next document I was able to find was the one posted in a previous thread dated June 2/2016 where court representatives were appointed on behalf of my sister and I.

Does this timing make sense?

Seems like a long time in to post the original notice for heirs to come foward.

What I'm wondering is if his death could have been kept a secret from an inheritance perspective? How is the government notified when someone dies in Poland? He owned property. Lets say if someone rented it out or lived in it and paid the bills would the government know about it?
inkrakow 1 | 98
23 Jun 2017 #11
Yes, the timing makes sense. It can take months to get a court date, and there's no time limit for sorting out an estate - my grandmother died in the 80s and we're only now sorting out the division of her property via the courts.

It sounds like you're looking around for some conspiracy and assuming that the authorities have more power than they actually do. If someone is living in a property and paying the bills (and whoever is renting it out is paying taxes), why should the government get involved? There are plenty of properties here where the owners have been missing since WW2 and a curator is appointed to make sure that the taxes are paid and that the building doesn't become a danger.

Pretty much everywhere it's the inheritors' responsibility to sort things out and there are laws that define how this works. Does some official in your country come round to a recently deceased person's property and quiz whoever is living there and then take a proactive role in sorting out the estate? I doubt it.
23 Jun 2017 #12
Well I do believe that information of my uncles death with intentionally withheld so we could not make a claim on his inheritance.

I just received a reply from the court that indicated that the entire inheritance went to his girlfriend/common-law partner even though we have a will that states that my sister and i are his sole beneficiaries. And the girlfriend knew about the will.

Does anyone know if we have any legal recourse now?
23 Jun 2017 #13
yes but you will need to get a polish lawyer to deal with the case on your behalf and of course its imperative that you have a copy of the will, as heresay won't do in this case.
23 Jun 2017 #14
yes we have a copy.

My polish isn't that great but the following says that everything went to his wife as a result of a will that was made in 2012, correct?

Spadek po Kazimierzu Zbigniewie Kmieciak zmarłemu 10 stycznia 2014 roku w Sopocie ostatnio stale zamieszkałego w Sopocie na podstawie testamentu z dnia 04 czerwca 2012 roku, otwartego i ogłoszonego w Sądzie Rejonowym w Sopocie w dniu 18 września 2014 r. nabyła w całości wprost żona Irena Krystyna Puton.

Does it also say that the matter was closed September 2014? If so, now I don't understand why the previously posted notice in June 2016 indicated that my sister and I have court appointed kurators.
gumishu 13 | 6,140
23 Jun 2017 #15
Does it also say that the matter was closed September 2014?

it precisely says that the will was opened and proclaimed in September 2014 - it doesn't specifically claim that case is closed though it states that the inheritance is granted in full to I.K. Puton based on the will - you could try to annul the will but the chances of success are slim I guess
23 Jun 2017 #16
So why on June 2, 2016 was the following document made and posted?

Me and my sister appear to have court appointed representatives but for what purpose?

Sąd Rejonowy w Sopocie Wydzial I Cywilny w sprawie Moniki Serockiej z udzialem Ireny Puton, Jaroslawa Puton, Elizabeth Mary Sa, Evy M. o stwierdzenie nabycia spadku po Kazimierzu Kmieciak, zwraca sic z uprzejmą prośbą o zamieszczenie na stronie internetowej tut. Sądu treści nastepujących ogloszen na okres 14 dni:łoszenie-I-Ns-31014.pdf

What are we talking about here??
gumishu 13 | 6,140
23 Jun 2017 #17
most probably Monika Serocka tried to overrule the will and gain part in the inheritance - I am not a lawyer so I can't tell you with any certainty but such things happen quite often - she must be then a close relative of Kazimierz Kmieciak (a daughter?)
inkrakow 1 | 98
23 Jun 2017 #18
In Poland a will doesn't totally override the rights of close relatives to the estate. Get a lawyer to look at the whole case.
23 Jun 2017 #19
Thank you everyone for all the replies. I really appreciate all the feedback. This is all so new and overwhelming and we are just trying to rationalize everything that has happened.

We have a lawyer ... we are just waiting as they are scheduled to review court documents for us on Monday.

Can anyone tell me if the courts recognize common law relationships in Poland over the rights of family (in my case being the niece)?
terri 1 | 1,663
23 Jun 2017 #20
Common law is very difficult to prove. If she lived with him for the last 25 years,had 4 children by him and relied on him for financial support for herself and the children then she would have a claim. However, you as the nearest blood relatives have a greater claim.
23 Jun 2017 #21
Hi Terri

They both maintained separate residences. He would live in his condo in Sopot in the winter and would rent it out in the summer while he stayed with his girlfriend/common law partner. They had no kids together and my uncle did not have any other children.

You know ... my grandmother paid for his condo and sent him money every month to pay for the condo fees and leave him a little extra. My grandmother passed away in 2011 and it appears a new will was made in June 2012. We are waiting to find out what's in that will.

What if the will was redone to leave everything to her?

terri 1 | 1,663
24 Jun 2017 #22
It really makes no difference if there is any other will. You as the nearest relatives HAVE a claim on the estate. Polish courts recognize family ties and each person from the nearest family is entitled to a percentage of the assets, even if the will leaves everything to a dog's home.... You are 'blood relatives' which is a nearer connection to the deceased than 'a woman with whom he occasionally lived'...

Common-law is an expression to give some credence to the arrangement but unless she can provide bank accounts in both names, legal papers (i.e.owning property) in both names and other paperwork where she is a 'partner' - she really has no leg to stand on. In fact, what their arrangement was as 'casual friends with benefits'...It would be different if your uncle had married again, then the wife would have a more valid claim on the estate.
Atch 22 | 4,124
24 Jun 2017 #23
The term common law spouse suggests that the person has some designated legal status but that isn't the case, not even in the UK which has a common law legal system, unlike Poland which has a system of civil law. There are no automatic rights or entitlements for a common law partner.
cms 9 | 1,255
24 Jun 2017 #24
You need to speak to your lawyer because there is a good chance that your uncles partner has a valid claim.

My not expert view is that if there was no will then the estate is divided between relatives according to 4 levels of relationship. However in cases where there is a will then the only people who can claim a statutory portion are wife, children and parents. We had a similar case in my extended family and that is how it ended up (though I don't think the matter is finally settled yet).

The common law thing won't make much difference, but the fact that she was mentioned in a new will and your uncle was probably not crazy when he signed it might put her in a good position. In addition she has created some facts on the ground that will be difficult to overturn - she is presumably in the building with media connected and paying local taxes etc.

Your lawyer will be able to give you a much clearer view than any of us !

BTW I think you are out of line posting all the details and names of a family financial matter on a public forum - your uncle and his girlfriend are probably consenting adults who did nothing wrong. Would you feel good if your own name was made public on a Canadian forum like that ?
24 Jun 2017 #25
Cms... I hear your point...

But these are public records... that I came across by chance while searching for my uncle. How would you feel if the death of a loved one was withheld from you?

Didn't cone here to be judged and you really don't know me or the full circumstances around this situation. Was just seeking to understand.

Thanks for your feedback
terri 1 | 1,663
25 Jun 2017 #26
Common law as in 2 people (of not the same sex) living in separate houses and having separate income and separate bank accounts and paying for their separate property and only meeting up (even every day) for 'conversation' does not create a relationship in the same light as being a husband and wife. The law is very clear in Poland. You are either a wife or not. If you are mentioned in the Last Will and Testament, you are only entitled if there are no living-blood relatives who have a legal claim.

You are wrong about the wills in Poland. Any living relation, and this could be the grandson of the deceased, his children or their children are blood relatives and have a greater claim on the will than a 'girlfriend'.. A 'casual girlfriend' is not a blood relative, even if she was 'casual' for 25 years.
cms 9 | 1,255
25 Jun 2017 #27
Well I think I am right but Eva can check that with her lawyer :)

It is not the common law thing that creates the girlfriends right. It is the fact that there is a will naming her. In such cases then the reserved portion only applies to children, grandkids, spouse and parents. It does not apply to nephews and nieces. That definitely used to be the case. However I am no longer au courant about this part of the law.

Eva - sorry about that - just feel its not good to wash your linen in public. Anyway there have been a number of recent cases about whether the court has a duty to find relatives named in wills. One was in the Supreme Court in January but I don't know if s verdict was reached. Again you can check it with your lawyer.
7 Jul 2017 #28
Can anyone tell me if there is some sort of document you must fill out when you buy property in Poland that designates a beneficiary? This is something specific to the property (nothing to do with a will).

My understanding is that you can name a beneficiary on this document but if there is a will that designates someone else as your "heir" which one actually governs?

Does anyone know what document this is and how it works?
cms 9 | 1,255
8 Jul 2017 #29
If you mean a document entitling someone else to live there and enjoy the benefits then yes there are several forms of that which you can execute before a notary and include some tailor made conditions e.g. About who is responsible for upkeep, paying taxes, cleaning the snow etc. People often do this at the same they make a donation of the property to a relative (called a darowiza).

What happens in the event of death of the owner depends on the will and wording of any other notarial documents - you need to discuss with a lawyer.
Wulkan - | 3,203
8 Jul 2017 #30
called a darowiza

Wrong, it's called "darowizna"

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