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Last will in Poland - (can a stranger inherit everything?)

adze1986 1 | 12
8 Aug 2017 #1
My partners father passed away 4 days ago, now they had not spoken in 9 months since her mother passed away in November 2016. and the day after she finds out her father has died she found out he was engaged to a 35yr old he was now seeing he died at 67. so in the 9 months since her mothers death he had met a 35yr old and made a new will in Poland leaving her in control of everything and to inherit everything. she has told my partner she is forbidden to go to the funeral and she will call the police, she has also said if my partner doesn't do as she is told she will burn everything of her diseased mother and brothers. she has informed her that she will inherit nothing as her father disowned her and left everything to this new girlfriend. she was given the number of the lawyer in Poland who sorted out the will and he told her that she cannot do anything and must wait 45 days for them to read the will and at that time she will be called to inform of anything. can anyone give any advice on what to expect? this seams so strange to me that this new person who was in his life less than 9 months now owns all of her familys things. and she is his only living child is forbidden from going to the funeral. she cant find out what the will says but this woman has a copy because she was there. her father was wealthy and owned land and buissness in America my partners family home is in America that her dad built and she will never be allowed anything unless this new woman allows it? is there anything she can do? or is it just a case of waiting till shee is told about the will and then get a polish lawyer to examine it? and if that's the case will it not be to late because all his assets and accounts will be given to her?

im sorry for the rant, I don't know how to help her and know nothing about polish law and she is to upset to do anything at all.
OP adze1986 1 | 12
8 Aug 2017 #2
she is unsure how much her fathers assets are worth but she knows he paid 8 million dollars for his American house 15 years ago. so you can imagine being told it is all going to a stranger not even a relative is hard. her father has 2 living brothers and a sister and just one living child. any information would be greatly appreciated as right now all she can do it sit here knowing she cant even go to the funeral. apparently it was written that he didn't want her there. but again all she has to go off is what she is told by this woman and a lawyer who will not give her any information other that wait over a month and we will call you.
DominicB - | 2,704
8 Aug 2017 #3

A couple of things here. Poland operates under civil law, and under civil law it is very difficult to disinherit anyone. Also, the power of a will is much less than in common law. The inheritance is split into two fractions, one of which must go to statutory heirs (the reserved portion), and the other which may be disposed of according to the will. The formula for distribution is fixed and non-negotiable.

The story you have told is very divergent from how inheritance normally works in civil law countries. My impression is that your FIL's fiancee is trying to defraud your partner. Best for her to get her own Polish attorney now and move to protect assets pending the settlement of the estate.
OP adze1986 1 | 12
8 Aug 2017 #4
Thank you for your reply, after speaking to the person who wrote the will in Poland she was told she can do nothing but wait until they contact her. they couldn't reveal any information other than the woman had every right to what she was doing and my partner had no choice but to wait or face legal action. my partner lives in the uk and so she cant even go and speak face to face with who ever this person is. the woman in question refused to speak to her and merely shouted things in the background of a conversation on the phone with her aunt for example saying if she didn't do as she was told she would burn her mothers and brothers things. all we know at the minute is that she has been told she will get nothing, she will be arrested if she attempts to attend her fathers funeral and that this woman has a copy of the will and own everything.
kaprys 3 | 2,309
8 Aug 2017 #5
Contact a lawyer in Poland.
DominicB - | 2,704
8 Aug 2017 #6
And let the lawyer do all the talking. Your partner can only harm her case by contacting her father's fiancee herself. That's what you pay lawyers for. Just stand back and let them work their magic.
cms 9 | 1,271
9 Aug 2017 #7
These are serious amounts of money - all the advice is correct above - especially to get a lawyer in Poland.

A few other considerations !

The Polish police have got better things to do than arrest people trying to attend their fathers funeral. You can only be arrested for committing a suspected crime. If it is in church she is free to turn up.

If this lady is not a US citizen and is not married to your FIL then she could face an inheritance tax bill in the US of several million dollars - it depends on on many factors. Unless she has liquid funds to pay that then this possibility could give you a huge advantage in getting her to be more rational. Speak to a lawyer in the US who specialises in inheritance.

One question your partner will face is why she did not speak to her dad in the 9 months after he lost his wife. If that was me I would be checking my dad every day to make sure he was coping, so there is obviously some backstory here that we are not told. and it's possible that this woman was in the background for some time - she has every right to the 50 percent portion but not to the portion reserved for relatives.
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #8
her mother died in November of cancer they hid this condition from her and she was angry at her father for not letting her know so she could say goodbye before she died, her father came to visit her after her mothers death and told her she had to move back to America with him, needless to say she didn't want to give up her life and because she refused to move back to America they argued and stopped talking. I have been trying to find out as much information as possible but until the will is read we have no information about anything. is it possible to contest a will in Poland for example could you argue this woman only knew him 9 months at the most and took advantage of him. I realise they were not talking but that was a temporary thing and they would have made up. I think its harsh that this person now gets half of everything I get that her dads stuff is his but its harsh that because her mother passed away not long ago he has all her stuff and that's now this womans aswell.
kaprys 3 | 2,309
9 Aug 2017 #9
It is quite confusing. What country are we talking about? Poland or the US?
Get a lawyer in the country in which your his last will is to be executed.
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #10
its all very confusing, it appears his property and bank accounts that are frozen at the moment (according to information from her cousin) are all based in the US. but he made his new will in Poland as his new girlfriend did not have a visa and could not go to America. he was visiting Poland a lot in the last few months to see this woman. they were arranging the marriage so she could go to America. now from what she has been told this woman has all rights and is in control of all his assets in the will, we don't know for sure because nobody will tell her anything. its like she has no rights to know anything unless this stranger allows it and she will not. the only things this woman has said to my partner by shouting in the background of a phone conversation is that if she doesn't do as she is told she will burn her mothers and brothers things, that she will get nothing, that its her fault her father died and that she will have her arrested if she goes to the funeral. I realise the possibility of being arrested is probably not great but if she was arrested that would cause problems for her to return home to the uk. and she doesn't want every memory of her mother and brother to be destroyed. it is all so confusing and im worried that if she has to wait until the will is read then it will be to late and everything will be in this womans hands. we have booked her a flight to Poland in 2 weeks were she will go see if she can get a lawyer.
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #11
i know I sounds stupid and but its not about the money, we don't have money now so we wont miss not having it. we get by and we are happy. its more the fact a stranger now gets to have all her family things. her family home all the possessions of her mother and brother. his house in America for example has a room for her and her brother that he didn't change or move this will all now be this womans. things like pictures in his house she will have. she could only have been in his life for 9 months as that's when her mother passed away in America. and even then he still lived and had a business to run in America so he had to visit Poland to see her. so after say 6 months of seeing this woman she has everything. this woman is 4 yrs older than his daughter and now owns her family. and because she is in charge of everything my partners mothers family is siding with her because they will get money. nobody informed my partner he had a partner until she said she was getting a flight for the funeral. her aunt (mothers sister) ssaid they were sorting the funeral when my partener said she wanted to come over and help it all kicked off.
DominicB - | 2,704
9 Aug 2017 #12

All the court cares about is seeing that the inheritance is properly distributed according to the law. For them, it is solely about the money, and they could not care less about all the drama or the "unfairness" of it all. They are there to identify the assets belonging to the estate and distribute them in accordance with the law and the will.

So if your partner does decide to hire a lawyer in order to get her share of the inheritance, then she should focus on that goal alone. Anything else is a waste of time to everyone involved.

As cms said, this is a considerable sum of money, and whether your partner says "it's not about the money" or not, she would be foolish indeed not to do all she can to get her fair share of such a sizable estate. Hire a good lawyer and let them do their job. Save the drama for the ears of someone who is interested in that sort of stuff. Guaranteed, you won't find them in the courtroom.
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #13
thankyou for your reply. I don not understand polish law even slightly and when she travels to Poland she will seek help from a lawyer, with the drama ect I wondered if she could contest the will. for example this woman will get half of everything and the rest will be split between family, so 50% for her then she descides who gets what of the other 50% so between his 2 brothers his sister and his daughter but does that also include is deseased wifs family my partners aunt for example would have still been his sister in law so is the 50% going to be split between all of them? the will leaves this woman in control of everything can she contest this as from my point of view (obviously bias) this is a 35 yr old woman who took advantage of a 67 yr old who just lost his wife. in Poland could my partner contest the will and gain control of who gets what ect or is this just how things go sometimes and she has no choice but to sit back and get what she is given.
DominicB - | 2,704
9 Aug 2017 #14
in Poland could my partner contest the will and gain control of who gets what ect or is this just how things go sometimes and she has no choice but to sit back and get what she is given.

Basically, that's it. You have to have legal grounds to contest a will. You can't just contest it because you feel it is "unfair". Your wife will get her portion of the reserved portion of the estate. As for the rest, the free portion, that will be distributed in accordance with the will. As you said, it was his to dispose of as he desired, even to someone he just recently met. Nothing unfair in that, unless there was actual (and provable) criminal fraud or other criminal transgression involved. Her father's "obligation" to take of of his family, including your partner, is covered by the reserved portion. Your partner has no right to anything in the free portion unless it is specifically bequeathed to her.

Also, as I said, there is a fundamental difference in how common and civil law work in matters like this. In civil law, no one cares about the drama. At all. Even bringing it up is more likely to backfire than not. Tell your partner to keep her emotional issues to herself, zip up, and let the lawyer do the talking. Otherwise, she is likely to make a huge clown out of herself. Civil law is shockingly dispassionate for those of us who are used to common law proceedings. It's not adversarial. Melodramatic theatrics are not at all appreciated. Or tolerated.
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #15
thankyou for the information like I said its better we know some things than nothing at all.

so far as I understand it, the girlfriend controls his funeral and is named as sole benefactor in the will, but polish law will decide how much all the assets are worth and split everything into two half's. she will get half and the other half will be split between the family. does the girlfriend get to choose who gets what share of that 50% or does the law split it evenly between the family? and is it all family or just close family like brothers and children or extended such as sister in laws ect.
inkrakow 1 | 98
9 Aug 2017 #16
Your partner is in a much better position with the Polish system than she would be with the UK system. As a previous poster mentioned, close relatives can't be left out under Polish inheritance law - it's stated in black and white. She must get her own lawyer, and quickly, and not take any notice whatsoever on anything that the person who wrote the will says. She also can't be prevented from attending a funeral.
DominicB - | 2,704
9 Aug 2017 #17
Your partner is in a much better position with the Polish system than she would be with the UK system.

Indeed. Under the common law system, she could well end up without even a single penny.
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #18
thats another thing we don't understand. he was polish and made a will in Poland but all of his assets are in America. does this new will made in Poland still over rule any previous will made in America or is it something she would need to hire a lawyer in new jersery for.
DominicB - | 2,704
9 Aug 2017 #19
she would need to hire a lawyer in new jersery

Yes. Consulting a lawyer there would be necessary in a dispute like this. In the US, inheritance is a state matter, and laws differ from state to state.

Generally, though, US courts recognize foreign wills as valid and binding except under certain uncommon circumstances.
Mrs T 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #20
Don't know if this helps: Two of my relatives (English) jointly owned a holiday home in Poland. One died and left their half to the other who then had to prove to the court in Poland that there were no closer relatives (circle of participants I think it was called). It took over 2 years
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #21
would you advise she try and contact a lawyer in Poland now or wait until she flies over on the 25th. my concerns are that if she waits till the 25th could it be to late and the will could already be enacted or however it works, I tried to find as much information as possible and its so confusing, the new jersey side says you have 10 days after death to appose the will but from Poland she is being told that she cannot know anything about the will until it is read and they contact her in 45 days.
inkrakow 1 | 98
9 Aug 2017 #22
Don't worry - no official process works that quickly in Poland :) I'd say the sooner she gets a lawyer the better as they will be able to start gathering the documentation and be ready to act. And at least they will be able to explain the process over the phone, and put her mind at rest.
Mrs T 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #23
Well in the case I talk of in my earlier post everyone in the will and close relatives were 'called' by the Polish court to attend if they wanted and give input. The call to attend came via home delivery letters to their UK addresses. And even after the court approved the will there was a period of about a month for appeals to be lodged.

Our experience was that the court is very, very thorough and carefully deliberates. We had a Polish notary acting for us and a court appointed translator -which is law I believe in Poland. As I said earlier, it took two years and was finalised last month.
Sparks11 - | 335
9 Aug 2017 #24
what a case! keep us informed--it's intresting. all good advice my only 2 cents-- dont believe a word this girlfriend tells you and act only in you and your wife's interest. tell her to call a lawyer today and ecplain everything. i wouldnt be surprised if the girlfriend is running some kind of scam based on her "dont even show up" comments. it sounds like shes trying to go over the top to scare you off. but you need the lawyer and you need the will or wills. knuckle down hard and it sounds like you could come out way ahead
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #25
We don't have the money for a lawyer at present but will get one as soon as possible. thankyou for advice and we did try and enquire about the will but she was told she cannot have any information about it. to be honest she rang up the number she was given after being told she was not allowed at the funeral. the person on the phone told her that everything was under the girlfriends control and advised she stay away or risk being arrested. she was told she could not have any information about the will other than there was a note saying she and several other people were not to attend the funeral. they took her number and said all she could do was wait 45 days for them to contact her. her cousin in Poland apparently went to the office to check for her and was told the same
OP adze1986 1 | 12
9 Aug 2017 #26
i read online that if the person has more than one nationality then the laws of the country they are connected to the most are applicable as her father was an American citizen as well and lived and had at least most of his assets in America. does this make things even more complicated.
cms 9 | 1,271
9 Aug 2017 #27
That is true between EU countries. It is sometimes true with other countries - in the US it is up to his State to apply laws - if he had no US will then the default position might be to accept the Polish will - that is why you need a lawyer in that state. Your partner has millions at stake - you will not salvage them on a public forum peopled mainly by bored expats and Slav supremacists.
inkrakow 1 | 98
9 Aug 2017 #28
does this make things even more complicated.

Of course it does! Get a lawyer in both jurisdictions.
Sparks11 - | 335
9 Aug 2017 #29
from what you wrote it really sounds like this girlfriend is scamming you. you need to get info from professional and learn your rights.
9 Aug 2017 #30
thank you to everyone who has replied I appreciate you giving your time, knowledge and experiences. My partner will be going to Poland in two weeks the girlfriend can't stop her visiting a grave. She will go and see a lawyer in Poland who may be able to shed some light on the situation but to be honest after a lot of reading it looks like because the majority of stuff is in America and he also an American citizen then those assets will fall under New Jersey law and aparantly if the will says u leave it all to the cat and not the kids that's just how it goes. There is nothing you can do about it. Just the way things go I guess

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