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UK Citizen resident in Poland dying intestate - inherited debt issue

8 Nov 2018 #1
My British ex-husband re-married a Polish woman and lived with her in Poland where they owned a house. He has died suddenly without leaving a will. My daughter's (both also British) have now received a message from their "step-mother" saying that he had debts of £20,000 and unless they sign a waiver of inheritance they are liable to pay half of this amount and they get half of the car but they can't take it out of Poland. Does this liability for inherited debts apply to British Citizens? They don't want or expect anything from the estate, but the way it's being done seems very odd?
Richthecat 8 | 68
9 Nov 2018 #2
You do need a lawyer

but I think it will be fairly straightforward they will just need to sign a declaration and the debts will not pass to them but also anything from the estate will also not be inherited
cms neuf - | 1,937
9 Nov 2018 #3
If the guy was resident in poland then probably they do need to sign the waiver. But ask a lawyer

Are you sure he had no assets ? Your kids might not expect anything but what if there are assets of a meaningful size ?

Cant they sell the car to pay the debt ?
OP Yonita16
9 Nov 2018 #4
Richthecat - issue is finding a British lawyer that can advise on Polish law. Also how to find more information regarding the "estate" before making a decision
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
9 Nov 2018 #5
It should all be sent to you by the executor of the will - don't sign anything until you have all the relevant information.
OP Yonita16
9 Nov 2018 #6
cms neuf - they have been told (sic) "If you send us this document then we can sell car and pay about 80% of this credit. If you not send us this then you must pay half of this credit and you got half of the car which you cannot sent to a different country than Poland" We know nothing about any assets or even this car - £20000 seems a lot for a car!
Atch 17 | 3,683
9 Nov 2018 #7
Yonita there are quite a few solictors in the UK who have Polish solictors on their staff. A bit of Googling should locate one in your area. Here's an example:
OP Yonita16
9 Nov 2018 #8
I'm assuming there is no will, no mention has been made of one; if there were I would have thought everything would have gone to his wife as he hadn't seen his children in over 10 years.
cms neuf - | 1,937
9 Nov 2018 #9
Yes that was my reaction that anybody who can drop 20,000 quid on a car in Poland probably has some other wealth.

Some very sensible advice above - wait for the executor of the will to contact you.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
9 Nov 2018 #10
I'm assuming there is no will, no mention has been made of one;

Aha, I forgot that civil inheritance law is different to common law.

Okay, to try and explain - Polish law works on the principle that an inheritance can either be accepted or denied. If someone dies without leaving a will, then there is a formula as to who inherits what. Now, what matters here is that debts can also be inherited, not only assets.

From what you've said, it's probable that he's taken some sort of financing on the car. So - she wants you to agree to deny the inheritance, so that she can sell the car and pay the financing costs. The car is part of the liabilities of the estate, so if your daughters accept the inheritance, then they have to pay for half the car as the finance agreement will be terminated.

The question is: do you think he's got any assets? If you have any reasonable doubt to believe that he does, then you should enquire with the court that's processing the inheritance.

CMS - it's only 100,000zł, you can get leasing deals for that without much trouble at all. So it might be above board, especially if the wife also signed for it.
cms neuf - | 1,937
9 Nov 2018 #11
Yeah - i know that but thats only the unpaid portion - it might of started at a larger number :)

There will be a few of these cases in the coming years - quite a lot of people came here from the UK the US, Holland etc often after a divorce in the 90s and made a good living but are now getting older.

Anyway good luck - Hope you find a solution to this one
Richthecat 8 | 68
9 Nov 2018 #12

Where do you live I used a Lawyer in London she was a Polish one and is now an English one I am not sure on her speciality but if you live anywhere near London I will try and get you a contact.

It may be worth an investigation into the size of the estate as houses here are not cheap and I am sure his half of the house would be worth more than 20k make sure the new wife is not trying to put one over on your daughters. Maybe she is not but signing a waiver would be the way she gets all the estate and also the taking the car out of Poland thing is rubbish they could potentially. Depends in whose name the car is in. There are plenty of English speaking lawyers here in Poland and they will be way cheaper than finding a Polish one in London.

Which city did he live in?
OP Yonita16
10 Nov 2018 #13
Richthecat - this is my suspicion unfortunately. It's very complicated as he had 5 children in total (none with her) and she doesn't mention the other 3 as bearing any responsibility; I'm only getting all this third hand from my daughter who is extremely stressed over the situation. He moved to Poland around 10 years ago and chose to have minimal contact: told us he couldn't afford Wifi, didn't contact girls when he did visit UK etc., neither of my daughters expect anything from the estate it just seems very odd that days after the funeral they're getting asked to sign this waiver. Her stepbrother (who sent the message) is the only one who speaks a great deal of English. There is a 5 bed house but it's quite remote (in mountains around 2 hour drive from Katowice) which I presume was in joint names and given that he was retired and living on a pension I'm quite surprised that he had a car loan for that amount of money. I don't know whether being in joint names would make a difference in Polish law? Can Polish authorities even impose these laws on British nationals descendents (even if they were living in Poland)? I'm not sure a lawyer in this country would be able to assist with Polish law so it's probably a case of finding one in Poland, neither option is going to be cheap or easy.
Atch 17 | 3,683
10 Nov 2018 #14
I'm not sure a lawyer in this country would be able to assist with Polish law

If you mean they won't bring a case for you in a Polish court, perhaps not (though they may be able to put you in touch with one who can help or if they have a Polish speaking lawyer on their staff, they may be able to liaise and assist you in negotating a fee etc). However there are lawyers in the UK who trained in Poland, now work in the UK and know Polish law, so they can at least advise you, just to get you started and see what your options are.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
11 Nov 2018 #15
It's very complicated

Actually, in this case, it's not so complicated at all. I think I've sussed out what's happening:

They want her to sign over the inheritance for whatever reason, and given you mentioned a 5 bedroom house, that means that it could easily be worth 200,000GBP or more. So, in this case, what you can do is register on this forum, make a couple of posts and PM me. I'll help your daughters for free - I'm not a lawyer, but I know Polish law well. You don't need legal representation to deal with it, but what you do need is to be aware of how Polish families work and the tricks that they do.

Basically, she should do nothing at this time. However, the most vital and important thing is to find out which court will deal with the case. In the event of them trying to screw your daughters over, they can petition the court directly.
Yonita16 1 | 3
11 Nov 2018 #16
I have signed up, but not sure about making posts as it says on the terms and conditions not to make duplicate or unnecessary posts? My daughter won't be taking any action in the short term until she gets something concrete from Poland (even if it needs translating). Thank you for your offer
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
11 Nov 2018 #17
Don't worry, it only means "don't spam the same thing repeatedly".

Yes, the most important thing is to keep the same line - that she will not sign anything until it's received in a hard copy.

It's explained here (in Polish, but use the DeepL online translator - it works well) -

In short, no need to rush, but do get her to ask which court is processing the inheritance. If they refuse to give this information, then you've got solid evidence that they're attempting to perform some sort of trickery. In this case, they can almost certainly write to the relevant court and inform them that the executor of the will is acting illegally and to their detriment.

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