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Inheritance Law in Poland (protecting myself from in laws)


thingymebob 1 | 5
2 Sep 2018 #1
Husband is Polish, I'm not, and we are both one of five siblings. Although we both come from working class backgrounds, his parents are worse off than mine. I'm the primary earner in our relationship as in I earn twice his salary but still not huge earnings (together we are around €85k gross). I've been lucky in savings and investments before we married plus afterwards, and have a healthy private pension and state entitlements.

Due to an inheritance from my godmother we are in a position to buy an apartment or house in Poland as an investment with the intention of retiring there. We have no children unfortunately and already have a home where we live (with a mortgage). I'm happy with that. I like Poland, visit often (more often than him), and qualms. The only thing that does worry me is that if he passes before me, that his parents and/or siblings can claim the Polish property or indeed any assets held abroad. I read somewhere that they could claim he had an obligation to provide for them??

My MIL already regularly asks for large sums of money as does the eldest brother, and while we've been happy to help on some occasions, when we don't, the atmosphere gets quite tense. As an example, we've paid for a bathroom renovation, a kitchen renovation, and a new roof. The BIL has been hinting for money to buy a car now he has a child, and after a year of not so subtle hints, last month asked outright for 25,000zł. When we declined, my husband got an ear ache about family loyalty. I know often he uses the excuse of me being the bigger earner and saying 'No' but it's a joint decision. We send money for the start of the school year for the younger siblings (big age gap of almost 15 years in the middle) and have paid for laptops etc. There seems to be an expectation that as we are earning in euros, we have lots of money when we don't, we're just careful. So it's not like we're mean, but equally my own family don't ask or expect money, and our gifting towards my nieces and nephews is at a much lower value.

I don't want to be in a situation where my in laws grab everything if my husband dies. Is there a legal obligation to provide for them? Is there any way around it?
mafketis 23 | 8,543
2 Sep 2018 #2
Probably more informed people will chime in, but your best protection is probably having everything in your name alone.

a situation where my in laws grab everything if my husband dies

That is very much a danger, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

In general Polish inheritance laws are terrible and only exist in their current form as a way of insuring steady income for lawyers....
G (undercover)
2 Sep 2018 #3
If the money is yours, just buy it as your property and problem solved.
Dougpol1 32 | 3,274
2 Sep 2018 #4
Good for you, trying to make your husband happy. My wife does that for me - but what about you? Would you be happy? You say you like Poland; I absolutely loved Poland when I came here for long summers, and christmas card winters. Of course you know the reality is different. What part of Poland are you going to be living in? Eastern Europe or Central Europe? It matters for some immigrants (if you're devout catholic, and don't mind nosy neighbours, scrub that)

And with all these hangers on, and extended family, you absolutely need to know the language, so you can stand up for yourself - and you also need to learn bureaucratic Polish to deal with the Town Hall, and thus you have to actually enjoy meeting people and fixing things.

It's much much better than when I came here 30 years ago of course and you will get your pension. The only thing is that the Polish government taxes it, and takes your money in health prescriptions - and generally you will get zero sympathy from the state, but you know all this. Good luck with the leeching family. I am lucky in this regard - I don't have any money for any Polish cousins of wife to leech:)

Siblings claiming the Polish property - well yes, as Maf says, others will be along. Laws keep changing on such matters, so that corrupt government can take advantage. In Western Europe the person can will his property to his dog, but isn't it true that in Poland the family have first dig, and a will has the value of the piece of paper it's written on?

Everything is in my daughters' name to avoid them death duties, but you say you don't have children. Maybe you could adopt one (only kidding) But that is a serious dilemma you have there - can't very well ask the relatives for advice, can you?
cms neuf - | 1,666
2 Sep 2018 #5
Your brother in law has some nerve - why have a kid if he cant support it ?

See a lawyer but as G says it might be best to put it in your own name though if you die first then it might be that your husband is back to square 1 and may have to use that to care for his mum (there is no legal obligation to provide for your brothers as far as I know)

Another possibility would be to put a small mortgage on the apartment in Poland, say for 10 percent of the value. That way nobody could try and get the apartment without also taking on the debt and while it's not much money for you it's a lot of money to a Pole who has no source of income.

I think at some point in the next 10 years the Polish inheritance laws will get a complete rewrite - in old days when everyone was a farmer or factory worker and nobody had any money and only small commie flats there was not always much worth arguing about.

Nowadays with wealth, emigration , more divorce, people living longer then the current system is just generating too many complications.
Dougpol1 32 | 3,274
2 Sep 2018 #6
the current system

Good post cms. So the OP shouldn't in fact entertain buying here? Too many variables.
OP thingymebob 1 | 5
2 Sep 2018 #7
I absolutely loved Poland when I came here for long summers, and christmas card winters.

Surprisingly most of my visits have been late October through February, ony ever been in Poland twice in the summer.

What part of Poland are you going to be living in? Eastern Europe or Central Europe?

We are looking at Wroclaw where we have visited a few times and both have friends, or perhaps Gorzów Wielkopolski. If we go for a house, it'll be Gorzów Wielkopolski, Wroclaw if it's an apartment Our budget is around 400,000zl,so if we need more it'll be a mortgage. His family are from a small town near Gdansk, but the aforementioned BIL is in Poznan.

It matters for some immigrants (if you're devout catholic, and don't mind nosy neighbours, scrub that)

I'm non religious - our family is culturally Catholic in a very loose manner, but we turn up for 'hatches, matches, and dispatches', we never make it to Communion.

My Polish is terrible, it's my big failure in life - inexplicably crap at any language apart from English to my embarrassment.

@cms_neuf

Your brother in law has some nerve - why have a kid if he cant support it ?

Oh you have no idea. They've also suggested that we could help with the IVF costs as SIL,is struggling to get pregnant with #2. Given I can't have one I thought that was a very kind and selfless suggestion on their part. The middle two siblings (early 20s) are ok, but the youngest BIL is cut from the same cloth as the eldest BIL, and he's only 14.

@cms_neuf

See a lawyer but as G says it might be best to put it in your own name though if you die first then it might be that your husband is back to square 1

That might not be an option currently as I'm Australian and non-EU and I think I'd need approval as a foreigner. I've been dragging my heels over getting EU citizenship, but I think I'm going to need to.

Thankfully we have 20+ years before we retire. I'm hoping that I'll be able to do some work part time, not for the financial benefit but for the social interaction with a multinational or similar as I'm currently doing a PhD part time. But that's a very long way away to be thinking about,
MoOli 9 | 483
2 Sep 2018 #8
@OP,Go to a Notariozs and draw up a will and the notary will register it also.I have done that with my investments in Poland and draw up a will in your native country and register it there as well(I know about USA not about Australlia) and do mention your property in Poland or otherwise,establish a estate and one of the spouses or immediate kids will be the beneficiary of the estate including Polish investments.
Jaskier
2 Sep 2018 #9
I feel really sorry for your husband to have such relatives...
No relatives have any right to any property the two of you own beside in a situation when you both die. Then as there is no immediate heir the money would be devided.

They may however ask for your husband to pay maintenance to your MIL. The court would take earnings of all the parties into account (including yours most probably ) and decide whether your MIL really should get any money, who should pay and how much. There is nothing you can do to stop them taking such action.

The trick is that in Poland married couple shares everything. No matter who earns what, how much each party paid for something and WHO'S NAME IT'S IN! The only exception is : things owned before marriage, inheritance ( but not what you buy for it. If you inherited a house, sold it and bought new one that new one is shared) and lottery winnings if I'm not mistaken.

The only way to separate your finances is to get court verdict of rozdzielnosc majatkowa in which case from that moment your financial status is as if you weren't married
MoOli 9 | 483
2 Sep 2018 #10
rozdzielnosc majatkowa

Does that mean separation of assets?If that is the one you mentioning then its not a cure its just delaying the problem as when one spouse dies the other spouse inherits and the problems from siblings start all over again.

Also incase after making the will one spouse dies the other can quickly get the will formed in her native country executed then the court system in Poland,also with Polish property(if its mentioned in the will in her country. The only solution suggested to me by a lawyer and notariuz is to pay the notariuz 200pln and draft a will and file it as then the greedy ones will have to first prove that the will was wrong.

It is Polish law when an property is bought by a married person the other spouse has to sign on the deed as well(new law in 2017 or18,before one party could buy on both names without mortgage) until one spouse writes a written statement that he/she has nothing to do with it.But it is always better to buy together and have a official will.
OP thingymebob 1 | 5
2 Sep 2018 #11
I'm perfectly happy for my husband to have the lot if I die first, he can do as he likes. What is mine is his and what is his mine. I just don't want to be in a position where members of his family swoop in and take chunks of our assets under some weird family law if he passes before me and I end up impoverished after carefully planning both mine and my husband's retirements.

My FIL is a great guy, just seems to have had a hard run with my MIL. They're 60 and 63, and apart from some alcohol related health problems (him) and diabetes (her), are in good health.

So a will in our residence country, recorded in my native country and notarised in Poland, but legal advice from a Polish specialist first.

Any recommendations on an English speaking Polish lawyer in Wroclaw via PM please
Jaskier
2 Sep 2018 #12
Does that mean separation of assets?If that is the one you mentioning then its not a cure its just delaying the problem

Yes. And the problem doesn't start again. If she dies, he gets it all and if he dies, things are in her name

The will doesn't have such strength in Poland as it does in e.g. USA. If you have kids but write in your will that you want your money to go to your lover or church or something your kids still have the right to part of your money. The same in this case. Since they don't have kids his parents (or parent and siblings if one parent is dead) have the right to half of the inheritance and cannot be left without anything even by a will (they have the right to zachowek which is less than the usual share but it's still there).

Also I don't know about then trying to go after his Australian asets...
And that 'unless you both die' from my previous post is obviously not correct -- sorry about that.
OP thingymebob 1 | 5
2 Sep 2018 #13
Ok, this section suggests that my husband can choose which nationality takes precedence in inheritance law

europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/family/inheritances/planning-inheritance/index_en.htm

He has dual nationality (Polish and Irish), and it mentions Irish citizens can use this law. Would it determine the distribution of Polish assets?
MoOli 9 | 483
2 Sep 2018 #14
What I meant was not about immediate relatives like spouse,offspring etc,I meant that the relatives/siblings etc have no rights to claim only the spouse and kids with will in Poland.Parents lately I heard can ask for living expenses even from living children.Thats why I mentioned will in Poland.

But incase of OP if she gets the will in Australlia executed with Polish property mentioned her hubbis siblings will have hard time as she can ask her Aussie court decision executed in Poland since cases in Polish courts linger for years and a decision could be made quicker there(only if she is not a Polish citizenor she will be under Polish laws and not Australian)
OP thingymebob 1 | 5
2 Sep 2018 #15
Definitely won't be getting Polish citizenship. I have dual nationality now but both non EU countries. I'm further eligible for citizenship of two EU countries but never pursued it as I have residency status after being here 15 years. One EU country due to cost and anger at their bureaucrats ability to lose everything (including my passports twice), the other EU country due to the language test. I might have to swallow my anger or use the language apps more often, and get citizenship after all.

Husband is having six fits at the idea of having to pay his mother maintenance, and is thinking of disconnecting his number and 'disappearing'. Buying a property in Portugal is becoming more appealing
Jaskier
2 Sep 2018 #16
I meant that the relatives/siblings etc have no rights to claim only the spouse and kids with will in Poland.

It's not lately as this law is in existence for a long time. The idea is that kids and parents have responsibility to help each other in problems (adult kids can ask for maintence as well in certain cases).One of the necessary circumstances is that the parent has to live in poverty. The problem is 'what is poverty'. If the MIL has 300 zl a month and has to scrape by she would win. Different matter is that all siblings are responsible for that.

As to the will- it cannot 'disinherit' completely ppl otherwise entitled to the inheritance (parents and siblings). Even with a valid will they have the right to something e.g. 25% of what they would get if there was no will.
MoOli 9 | 483
2 Sep 2018 #17
As to the will- it cannot 'disinherit' completely ppl otherwise

Does that mean that my sister in law/brother in law and there kids can still put a claim incase of me and my wifes death? And my kids will have to share the properties with them?

That's why me and my wife made a will in Poland and in US mentioning Polish properties to be transferred to our kids specifying there identities.

Definitely won't be getting Polish citizenship

And Please before even you think to make sure it will not be a burden.My son in the last 5 years couldn't give up Polish citizenship(Application sent in 2013) and had huge problems getting top security clearance for his job.Smart me got it for him when he was a toddler and has rather become a curse for him now and he is not allowed to leave the country without permission.
Dougpol1 32 | 3,274
2 Sep 2018 #18
me and my wife made a will in Poland

As long as it's to your nearest and dearest, that works. Any deviation, and that will is worthless.
MoOli 9 | 483
2 Sep 2018 #19
Umm,what does that mean ?lol all my aquaintances might get a cheap champagne after our funeral(I think we should add that in will)
johnny reb 24 | 4,293
3 Sep 2018 #20
Any deviation, and that will is worthless.

That is why in my Will there is a clause right at the bottom that says;
ANYONE that contests this Will will have their name immediately removed from this Will and they get NOTHING.
If your name is not on my Last Will and Testament it is because I did not want it on it so you have no legal binding right to anything.

That keeps the greedy gold diggers claws in.
OP thingymebob 1 | 5
3 Sep 2018 #21
100% certain I won't be getting Polish citizenship. I have the choice of two other EU countries, so I'm safe.

As long as it's to your nearest and dearest, that works. Any deviation, and that will is worthless.

That's unfortunately our issue. We've both been self sufficient for 20 years plus, and have contributed to our families repeatedly. Our parents didn't attend our wedding, and we see them maybe once a year, so couldn't be described as close. My husband frequently feels like an ATM that has to say 'Insufficient Funds' to get a break, so this has been a surprise. Hopefully he can invoke Irish Law in the will so they can keep their hands off our assets.
MoOli 9 | 483
3 Sep 2018 #22
@johnny reb
You nailed it JR,very good wording and we will be putting those in our US & Polish wills ASAP.Infact I also have a clause that my 2kids can never sell any property or mortgage it until the older one is 44(lol if at that age they still don't know how to manage then they deserve to blow em)

@OP,I am sure Irish courts are quicker to decide the execution of will after death before Polish courts.You can take the judgement to Poland and get it enforced being in the EU.
cms neuf - | 1,666
4 Sep 2018 #23
But this clause would not work in Poland - the civil law is stronger than that clause and spouse, kids are entitled to a share whatever you write.

I have taken lots of advice both on this and which laws have precedence in different countries. I never got a simple or convincing answer - I concluded it will be easier to transfer assets while i am still alive.
Atch 17 | 3,234
4 Sep 2018 #24
Hopefully he can invoke Irish Law in the will so they can keep their hands off our assets.

I'm presuming he has an Irish passport but even that won't help. From the link you provided:

"The authority of the EU country that handles your inheritance or succession can refuse to apply certain provisions of the law of your nationality if they are contrary to local public policy".

That's the clincher there. Even if you try to invoke his Irish citizenship, the Polish courts can disregard it. That's what you'll find if you decide to relocate permanently to Poland, always difficulties at every turn and the legal system is a travesty compared to the one you're accustomed to. It is NOT an easy country to live in and I have to say as an Irish person living there, I am mystified as to why your husband would want to retire there when he could choose Ireland instead :)) Ireland is a much easier and friendlier place for a retired person to live in, in every respect, than Poland. If you're thinking of the cost of living issues, you're so far off retirement at this stage that by the time you'd be living in Poland, God knows what the cost of living will be. It's already coming in line with the Western Europe and many things cost the same. Also Poland's future is very uncertain. There is no guarantee that they will still even be in the EU ten or twenty years down the road. Do you follow Polish politics? If not, I suggest you start doing so.

And as for your husband being an ATM he needs to knock that on the head. He has no moral responsbility to provide for the entire family. Taking care of his parents in their old age is one thing, but other than that, they can look after themselves to the standard that they can afford to live based on their local earnings. 25,000 for a car is ridiculous, that's about 6,000 euros. Even in Ireland you can get a lovely secondhand car with low mileage for about 2,500 euros, one you can actually afford to tax, insure and maintain which is also an issue.

The idea is that kids and parents have responsibility to help each other in problems (adult kids can ask for maintence as well in certain cases).

And that's because the State doesn't want to - unless the ruling party is trying to drum up votes for an election and then they come up with a sticking plaster over the open wound scenario like the 500+ programme.

@Thingymebob, the Polish state makes little or no provision for its vulnerable citizens. Bear that in mind when deciding about your retirement because even if you have sufficient funds to live comfortably do you want to live in that kind of society?Also consider that if you're widowed you would be alone in a foreign country where your husband's family won't give a toss about you other than getting their hands on your pension book.
MoOli 9 | 483
4 Sep 2018 #25
the civil law is stronger than that clause and spouse, kids are entitled to a share whatever you write

I think the OP don't care about spouse/kids inheriting(so do I) but her mother in law and brother in law(BIL and his family in my case).


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