Inheriting Property in Poland
In case of inheriting real estate in Poland the regulations of the Polish inheritance law do not stipulate any specific procedure. All procedures are in accordance with the general rules. At the moment of a will creation by the deceased, the information in regards to who inherits and what (so called testamentary inheritance) needs to be found in the will. However, when the will does not exist or is invalid, or if the beneficiaries do not wish or cannot become heirs, the circle of heirs is appointed by the rule of law (so called statutory inheritance in Poland).
First step - inheritance acquisition proceedings in Poland
According to the Polish Inheritance Law, the heir acquires the inheritance at he moment of the opening of the inheritance (article 942 kc), that is at the moment of the testator's death (article 924 kc). However, the death itself is not enough to make somebody an owner of the real estate belonging to the deceased. Firstly, it is necessary to obtain a decision regarding the acquisition of Polish inheritance. Such a decision is issued by the Polish Inheritance Court. During the proceedings the court examines who is entitled to inherit (in particular if the testator left a will) and to what share of the inheritance the individual heirs are entitled to.
To begin the proceedings to obtain a decision regarding the acquisition of inheritance, a special application needs to be submitted. To draft it, the copies of the civil status records of the heirs and testator's death certificate are necessary. The application needs to be submitted to the court at the last place of testator's residence, and, if such a place of residence in Poland cannot be established, to the court at the place where the inheritance estate or its part is located (Polish Inheritance Court). In case the above mentioned grounds do not exist, the inheritance court is the district court of the city of Warsaw. The payment of 50 zł needs to be submitted with the application.
After the proceedings, the court issues a decision, which will state who inherits after the deceased. Only when the decision goes into effect, do the heirs become the formal owners (or joint owners) of the real estate. An appeal from the decision can be taken by filing an appeal.
It is worth noting that since March 1, 2009, Polish notaries became authorized to issue a confirmation of inheritance in Poland based on the inheritance protocol. The necessary conditions for utilizing this institution is the presence of all persons eligible for inheritance and the lack of conflict between them in regards to the division of inheritance. In practice, all potential heirs meet at the notary's office to draft the inheritance protocol. Based on this protocol, the notary drafts a confirmation act of drafting the inheritance protocol. Next, he registers it in the electronic registrar of the confirmations of inheritance. From this moment, the act goes into effect the same way the court decision regarding the inheritance acquisition deed does.
Second step - tax proceedings
See section Inheritance tax in Poland
Third step - real estate register proceedings
The last part of the proceedings the heirs need to go through is making appropriate entries in the Land Registry of Poland. They must apply to the court for entering them into the real estate register as the new owners of the real estate. A confirmation of the inheritance acquisition deed needs to be attached to the application. A fixed payment of 200 zł (or 150 zł if the entry pertains to the agricultural real estate area of up to 5 ha) is collected for the application. If for the real estate subject to inheritance the real estate register was not created, an application for its creation needs to be filed. The cost of the creation of the real estate register is 40 zł.
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