Rejection of inheritance in Poland by children
On 15 November 2023, new provisions on Polish succession law will come into force, which are intended to improve inheritance proceedings and respond to perceived deficiencies in estate law.
What is new?
Heirs are facing big changes. Parents will be able to reject an unfavourable inheritance for minor children without court consent (and litigation process), and children not caring for their parents will be deprived of their inheritance. The circle of heirs will also be reduced.
Rejection of an inheritance on behalf of children
The introduced amendments provide that parents who have themselves rejected an unfavourable inheritance will also be able to reject it on behalf of their minor children. Previously, the consent of the family court obtained by the parents of a minor heir within six months was required for the validity of such rejection of an inheritance. Now, parents will be able to reject an inheritance on behalf of their child without the court’s permission, as long as they have previously rejected the inheritance themselves. The court’s consent will only be necessary in the case of a so-called conflict of interest, i.e. when, for example, a child is called to inherit alongside a parent.
In order to improve the processing of such cases, requests for consent for the rejection of an inheritance will be submitted straight away to the inheritance court. This is because the court is best placed to obtain information about the assets of the estate.
Significantly, for inheritances opened before 15 November 2023, for which the time limit to submit a declaration of acceptance or rejection of the estate before 15 November 2023 has not expired, the new provisions will apply.
Unworthy to inherit
Until now, an heir could be declared unworthy of the inheritance if one committed a grave offence against the testator or persuaded the testator by deceit or threat to draw up a testament. The amendment extends the grounds for declaring an heir unworthy of the inheritance to include persistent evasion of maintenance obligations towards the testator, in particular those imposed by a court decision or agreement.
Narrowed circle of heirs
Finally, the legislator decided to amend the statutory inheritance rules in Poland and narrow the circle of statutory heirs in a situation where the deceased did not leave any next of kin (children, grandchildren, spouse, parents, siblings and their descendants) and the inheritance falls to the grandparents and one of them has died. Until now, his share of the inheritance passed to his descendants regardless of the degree of relationship. After the changes, this circle will be shortened to children and grandchildren, and in the absence of these, it will fall to the remaining grandparents. As a result, the duration of succession proceedings may be significantly shortened.