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Father is on life support in Poland. I am in the USA and his only heir. What are the steps I need to take?

13 Jan 2024 #1
Here is the current situation. I live in the USA, father lives in Poland. We are both dual Polish/American citizens and I am his only child. He moved back to Poland 2 years ago after living in the USA since 1986 and didn't register for health insurance in Poland. He is currently facing major medical issues and is on a breathing support machine and unconscious. It's unknown if he is going to wake up and each day he remains in a coma the prognosis is worse. Personally I don't think he will last longer than a few more weeks.

He is currently raking up medical bills at the hospital. His sister is checking up on him every few days. He failed to assign a power of attorney to anyone and has no will. No one has access to his bank accounts in Poland or the USA but him. His only source of income are his social security payments here in the USA. No one can access this money but him.

How do I protect myself from being responsible for his medical debts in Poland? He made poor choices and now no one can represent him medically or legally. I don't want to be responsible for his bad choices and medical debts and neither does his sister living in Poland.

I have enough savings to travel to Poland once for about 7-10 days. I cant afford to go back and forth to settle legal matters.

What steps legally do I need to accomplish when I go visit him? How can I protect myself legally? What bureaucratic offices do I need to visit while he is still alive?

What about if he dies?

The little info I have found on Polish inheritance law states that I can either choose to inherit his assets which would also include his debts or I can choose to refuse any inheritance which would mean I don't inherit any debts and the government takes all of his assets to help cover whatever debt he has left. From what I heard he doesn't have any debts nor assets in Poland. The only debt would be his medical debts.

He rents an apartment and has a junk car that he uses. My aunt said they are trying to sell the car for some extra money to cover the medical bills.

Any information would be greatly appreciated. I am planning on visiting him in the next week or so.
Poloniusz 4 | 708
13 Jan 2024 #2
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Home > Family Matters & inheritance > Inheritance > Succession > Poland
Atch 22 | 4,111
14 Jan 2024 #3
Hi Steve, sorry to hear about your troubles.

What bureaucratic offices do I need to visit while he is still alive?

There isn't much you can do until he actually dies. You have six months to reject the inheritance but bear in mind that if you do, the inheritance passes to the deceased's grandchildren, so if you have kids, be aware of that. They also need to be included in their own right in any rejection process.

The best thing you can do while in Poland is to gather all the information you will need for the rejection eg. things like your father's Polish PESEL number, his full address etc.

If you want to reject an inheritance, you must submit a written or oral declaration of rejection to one of these places. The first two are only if you live in Poland.

at the notary,
in the district court competent for your place of residence,
in the inheritance court,
at the territorially competent consular office of the Republic of Poland - this applies to persons living abroad, who must also submit their declaration to the above-mentioned inheritance court.

So, in your case, after your father dies, I would get a translator to create a document for you, stating your rejection, take it along to the Consulate and also send the same thing by registered post to the inheritance court. The court competent to hear an application for confirmation of inheritance is the District Court, Civil Division, of the last place of habitual residence of the deceased. To be on the safe side, I'd get the document notarized. Poland loves notarized documents! Office staff in Poland can be a bit careless especially with communications from abroad, and they'll pay more attention/be more careful with a notarized document.

Here is an article that explains the process of how to reject the inheritance in depth. It's in Polish, so use Google Translate to get it in English.

Home / Law / Father is on life support in Poland. I am in the USA and his only heir. What are the steps I need to take?