Inheritance law

Rejecting an inheritance on behalf of a child

Family Court approval to reject an inheritance

At first glance, it might seem that the situation of receiving an inheritance represents an extra addition to one’s estate. However, the acquisition of an inheritance does not always result only in the acquisition of assets – more often, the inheritance mass is encumbered with debts, and then the heir faces a difficult choice as to what to do: whether to accept the inheritance or reject it. While in the case of adult heirs such a situation is not complicated, if the heirs are minors, unfortunately, the intervention of the family court will be necessary.

According to the provisions of the polish family law, parents are obliged to exercise due diligence in the management of the property of a child under their parental authority. However, they may not, without the permission of the guardianship court, perform acts beyond the scope of ordinary management or consent to the child performing such acts.

Application for permission to reject an inheritance on behalf of a child

Obtaining permission from the guardianship court for a parent to reject an inheritance on behalf of a child requires a written application to the family court having jurisdiction over the residence of the minor child, and in the absence of a residence, the court of the child’s place of residence is appropriate. If and on this basis it is not possible to determine the competent court, then such court is the District Court for the city of Warsaw.

The fee for an application for consent to reject an inheritance on behalf of a minor is PLN 100. In a single application, it is possible to request the court’s consent to reject the inheritance on behalf of several children, but the fee is multiplied according to the number of children included in the application.

When motivating an application to the family court, it is generally sufficient to show that the inheritance is indebted and that the parents have already rejected it in their own name. This can be done, for example, by showing summonses to the deceased, loan agreements, bailiff documentation. It is also worth attaching to the application statements of rejection of the inheritance made by other heirs.

Making a declaration after obtaining court permission

Having a final decision of the family court permitting you to reject the inheritance on behalf of a minor, you can, and should, as soon as possible file such a declaration before the court or notary public. Delaying can have negative consequences, so it is always better that the statement be made immediately.

How do you count the time limit for a minor to reject an inheritance?

In the case of a minor, the state of knowledge of the legal guardian, who is most often a parent or parents, is taken into account. In the most typical situation, that is, when a parent rejects an indebted inheritance, which results in the appointment of that parent’s minor child to the inheritance, the 6-month deadline begins to run from the moment the parent made a declaration of rejection of the inheritance before a notary or family court.

Fortunately,  the Supreme Court in a ruling in 2013, decided that the 6-month time limit does not run while the case for permission to reject the inheritance is pending before the court (i.e., from the date of filing the motion to the date the court decision becomes final). This is a very reasonable ruling that removes many doubts.

It does not change the fact that the procedure for the rejection of a minor’s inheritance should be approached quickly enough and not put it off until the last minute. So that it does not turn out that, managing the child’s property, you missed the appropriate deadline and the child took over the testator’s assets with all the benefits of the inventory, and therefore also with the numerous debts associated with it.

All information regarding the issues described above can be clarified by our lawyers specializing in Polish inheritance law

Author team leader DKP Legal Marta Oleśkowska
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