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Inheritance Law in Poland and debts - how does it affect a British child?

2 Apr 2013 #1

Recently, my partner's grandfather died (Polish). My partner is also Polish, and I am British however our daughter was born in the UK and is a UK citizen (not dual).

Her grandfather dies with lots of debt. It is our understanding that my partner must visit the embassy and they will witness her statement of rejection so she does not inherit anything including debts.

The situation becomes more complicated with our daughter - she is 4 years old and must be represented in Polish court by a solicitor. Obviously when my partner rejects then the inheritance including debt passes to my daughter. So then here are my questions that I hope someone may answer.

1. We cannot go to Poland - will a solicitor suffice to represent our daughter?
2. How much will a solicitor in Poland cost?
3. If we do not go through the process what can the Polish court do to my daughter - she is a child and a UK citizen with no assets so I would imagine there is nothing they can do? Let's face it - they cannot come over here and arrest a child for not showing up in court. Does this make us as her parents liable?

4. Where do we send our partner's statement of rejection - the local family court in that polish district?

Thank you
24 Jul 2013 #2
1. Yes, power of attorney should be granted to Polish solicitor.
2. It depends on the case and the solicitor. I recommend a good individual instead of legal chamber.
3. There is still time to avoid responsibility for the debts without rejecting the inheritance. Polish law provides for different methods of succession, including the one when the successor is respobnsible for the debts up to the amount of the assets. It is profitable when the value of debts do not exceed value of assets. Certain steps needs to be undetaken. As regards responsibility - of course they cannot arrest child. In view of the Polish law, the parents are acting in the name and on behalf of the child.

5. Any actions needs to be undertaken before the Polish court. The court
Please note that a verdict of the court is not enough, while it will only grant (or not) a consent to rejection, which is a separate action to be fulfilled.

If you decide to accept the inheritance, Polish inheritance may apply depending on the categories of assets.
I hope the above will be helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know. We may contact via e-mail.
4 Feb 2014 #3
I heave exactly the same problem can u let me now haw did u sort it out on the end please!!!!
4 Feb 2014 #4
What is the approximate value of the assets to the debts? Since your partner is not interested in the inheritance, do not discount the child. Ask the court if you can be given time to pay off a portion of the debt until the child comes of age at 18. Then as parents you will have to work out how to pass on the remaining debt on to her. Your daughter may be a British citizen now, but when she becomes of age she may or may not want to apply for dual citizenship. Good luck on your decision.
radio KWG
5 Feb 2014 #5
I would like to thank the guest for the information and for Tobiasz I will tell you what happened.

Thankfully the court concerned in this case was very understanding and it became a lot easier than I expected.

First of all we downloaded a template letter from the internet so my wife could say that she did not want the inheritance. (it was all debt).

Then we went to the Polish Consulate in Edinburgh, on the advice of the court in Poland. The letter we downloaded wasn't really much use because

the legal expert at the consulate edited this massively and then my wife wrote the fresh letter at the consulate and it was witnessed and signed for.

My wife then sent the letter to the court - but we also sent exactly the same letter from my 5 year old daughter at the same time.

My wife was in constant contact with the court via telephone over the issue and in the end they simply sent two letters - one to my wife and one to my daughter

acknowledging that they had not accepted the inheritance.

We then had to send the two envelopes sent from the court back to them acknowledging that we had received them.

The court also confirmed on the telephone that the issue was closed.

Over the course of the whole affair we had many different versions of advice form different parties. At first the court was saying that we would need a solicitor, two legal experts at the consulate were telling us different things. One solicitor said we would need a family member from Poland to represent our daughter, one said it was too complicated, one said we could sort it out at the consulate. A European legal expert told us that there was nothing the Polish court could do to enforce the debt on our daughter - so it would be best to simply forget about it (the consulate denied this)

So I can't really advise how best anyone in the same situation go about it because it really is a silly system which has baffled any British or European Solicitor I have spoken to - in Britain no child can be held responsible for debt after the death of a relative. It's obvious that they have no bearing on this, cannot pay in most circumstances and are also protected by a different set of rights laws.

I do understand that there can be situations where there may be assets worth more than the debt and the child would not have to pay to inherit these. But I would imagine that in this case the legal wranglings would be drawn out and probably expensive. This was not the case in our case. There was nothing to inherit except debt.

The best advice I can give is contact the Polish district court who is dealing with the issue - explain the situation and they will help. I think in our case they realized that in having the letter was enough. Good Luck.

5 Feb 2014 #6
Thank you that is werry help full!!!!!
6 Feb 2014 #7
Ok. Now I understand better as well. I have had some time as well to rethink what I was trying to get across in the previous posting. That was certain personal effects or mementos, such as photos dealing with the family and letters that the grandfather may have kept from friends and family that have emmigrated.
6 Feb 2014 #8
A European legal expert told us that there was nothing the Polish court could do to enforce the debt on our daughter - so it would be best to simply forget about it (the consulate denied this)

What the Polish court thinks it can and cannot do often varies dramatically with what it actually can and cannot do under European law. No doubt the Polish tax payer will soon be picking out a few rather large bills while Polish judges learn that lesson.
14 May 2014 #9
We live in Sweden, but the situationm otherwise is the same. I'm Swedish and my wife has dual Polish and Swedish citizenship. We have two daughters with Swedish citizenship only. Some distant relative to my wife has dies and left a net debt.

I would highly appreciate if you could send me a template of the letter that you sent to the court.
Best regards, erik.leksell@gmail
18 Mar 2015 #10 uncle passed away 2014. Soon after I get notice from his daughter by email that I need to send all sorts of paperwork regarding me and my children. I was not notified by any legal agency, council, or attorney as to what needs to be done next. My uncle passed away in Poland and my children and myself are US citizens not dual. Do I just wait to be notified? Or do I need to address this issue with an attorney? Very confusing as to the proper way of handling this matter.
30 Apr 2015 #11
I have the same problem. Bristish husband, kids with Bristish citizen. My dad passed away 6 months ago and left credit card debts! I have already signed forms that I don't want his inheritance in front of Polish solicitor. I'm not legaly responsible for his debts but what do I do about my kids? Do sort this out in Polish court? Polish solicitor tols me that I have to sort it out in UK as kids have British surnames. I'm confused and don't know what to do next.

Appreciate any help
30 Apr 2015 #12
Polish law and lawyers unfortunately are not set up for any complications like marrying foreigners, getting divorced, adopting step children etc. I am trying to write a will at the moment that covers kids and assets in several countries and its not easy.

Your Polish lawyers point about surnames is a bit of a weird one but its basically correct since its a citizenship issue.

my view is that your kids as British citizens are not subject to Polish jurisdiction even if the Polish family law passes the debt on to them - if they have never been Polish citizens, nor resided there and had no claim on the assets, then what right does the Polish law have to impose debts on them ? Might be wrong however !
10 Nov 2016 #13
Pretty much similar situation. i am polish my husband is British. child 4 year old british citizen. My moms cousin passed away with big debt. loads of family members being summoned to pay it and all are rejecting the inheritance. i myself did it 2 weeks ago. now im worried about my child as i have no clue how to do it. i would appreciate any help. emiklaa@yahoo
14 Nov 2016 #14
As said before then I don't see how the Polish courts can have jurisdiction over your daughter if she has never been a Polish citizen or resident. There are 5 ways to establish jurisdiction over foreign citizens but none of them apply here.

However if you still want to be safe, you could do as Radio suggests above and contact the family court and get the relevant letters that you reject the inheritance.
7 Jan 2017 #15
We are in a similar situation my fiancé's grandfather passed away leaving a large debt which will be passed down the family as the main beneficiaries have rejected the inheritance. We cannot just go to Poland and do this for my fiancé and my son ourselves. As I understand it a letter witnessed by the consulate and sent to the Polish Court should suffice. Does anyone have a template letter we could use or any other advice? Or would you advice contacting the court and getting them to send the relevant papers. Thanks in advance
9 Mar 2017 #16
Would you please send me a copy of this letter my uncle died and now they want to pass the debt to me and my kids and we are both British. It's my mum who is polish hence why they are passing it down.

Any help or advice how to resolve this would be appreciated as I've no idea what we need to do.
21 Feb 2018 #17
I have a similar situation. It is very stressful. Husband is Polish and has been summoned to court about his uncle's debts. His sister and aunt have been summoned too. He has just started a new job and it will be very difficult for him to make it to Poland for the court case. I was reading that a person has 6 months from the date they become aware of the death to refuse the inheritance. His uncle died Over a year ago so is it too late for him to fill in the form to refuse it now? Or can he still sign this form and send to the court to tell them he is refusing it even though it is more than 6 months now.
21 Feb 2018 #18
He has 6 months from the date that he became aware of the death. You must complete the form and send it off and give them factual evidence as to how and when you learned of the death and when you became aware that there was a will and you were a beneficiary from it. Read up on how you can refuse to have anything to do with the will. This must be in writing. Wrote a letter to the Court and make sure you have evidence of the Court receiving the letter..
7 Jan 2019 #19
Hi there, please help... I the same situation, my aunt who I didn't know died in Poland and left debt. I have refused inheritance already but now it's about my baby girl. The consultant stated we'd have to go through the family court and I need the permission to refuse for her and then will be able to go back to the consultant and have it all witnessed and stamped. Unfortunately the court has taken top long and we're about to hit the 6 months mark... what do we do? We're in New Zealand, I have never lived in Poland but was born there. I'm so worried. Plead could I have any dirt of template emailed to me as well and I'd appreciate any advice on this.
Thanks so much
8 Jan 2019 #20
I have similar problem - Polish speaking solicitors in this country don't want to know. British Embassy in Poland don't want to know, (just refer you to their list of English speaking lawyers). English speaking lawyers in Poland won't speak unless pay £600 up front (which we don't have). Deceased's family in Poland can't/won't give ANY details of who to contact or any paperwork but insist we have to travel to Poland and see a notary (something which we can't afford to do). Apparently despite there being 5 children in total only 2 were "registered" in Poland when deceased got residency so only officials only aware of 2 children. Do we just wait until the Polish authorities send us something?
9 Jan 2019 #21
what do we do?

Nothing. The girl isn't under any sort of Polish jurisdiction, and it would be impossible for the court to prove that your daughter actually received any correspondence on the matter. In your daughter's case, the debts will be time-expired by the time she grows up anyway.

Do we just wait until the Polish authorities send us something?

Don't do anything until they do contact you. When they do, just send a letter back formally rejecting the "inheritance", that's it.
8 Aug 2019 #22
Hello. I'm going through the same thing on my wifes side! This sounds corrupt! Can you send me a copy of the cover letter please.
Mac Sam
21 Aug 2019 #23
The main issue connected with the inheritance with debts is the time when the testator died. There are different rules when the death is before 18.11.2015 and the other are after this date. There were changes in polish law after abovementioned date which also change the inheritor situation. From that date there is limited liability for debts.
4 Dec 2021 #24 can I ask for this letter, please.
26 Mar 2024 #25
We are having the same problem, my husband has rejected the inheritance debt (I am engliah so a bit confused by it all!) but the debt is now being passed to his children. The problem is, at the time of the request he was unwell so missed the 6 month deadine to reject it on behalf of his children. What do we do? any ideas nayone? coudl you guys be kind enough to email me a copy of this template letter to use and advise me of where to send it to? polish or english it doesnt matter, we speak both, but his children were born in the UK. any help is massively appreciated

27 Mar 2024 #27
The kids are 14 and 11...... does age make a difference?

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