Polish inheritance law and acquisition of inheritance in Poland by a foreigner and a person residing outside Poland

Polish inheritance law and acquisition of inheritance in Poland by a foreigner and a person residing outside Poland

Inheritance by foreigners in Poland is possible because Polish regulations do not establish restrictions on inheritance by foreigners. However, this does not mean that a foreigner who inherits property in Poland is exempt from the formalities associated with it.

A foreigner can inherit real estate in Poland both based on a will and through statutory inheritance (i.e., when a Polish relative did not leave a will). However, a valid will does not exclude the obligation to obtain the consent of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Poland to acquire real estate.
If the testator left real estate in Poland, for the heir (foreigner) to be able to freely dispose of it in accordance with Polish regulations, they must apply to a Polish court to establish the acquisition of the inheritance. In the proceedings, the court will determine who inherits the estate and to what extent, and in the case of a will, it will examine its validity.

It should be remembered that the validity of the will is also examined based on the testator’s national law at the time of their death. In the case of a Polish citizen, this will always be Polish law, even if they are also citizens of another country. However, it may happen that at the time of death, the testator had, for example, only U.S. citizenship. In such a situation, the validity of the will be assessed in Poland based on U.S. law. Finally, it may happen that a will was drawn up abroad by a Polish testator.

Foreigners who are not among the statutory heirs (statutory heirs generally include parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren, siblings), and who became owners of real estate in Poland as a result of testamentary inheritance, must generally submit an application to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Poland for a decision authorizing the acquisition of this real estate. The determination of the circle of statutory heirs is based on the testator’s national law. However, this obligation is abolished in some cases. It does not include, among others, the acquisition of an independent residential unit, actions carried out by foreigners residing in Poland long-term based on a permit or being in a marital relationship with a Polish citizen and residing in Poland for 2 years after being issued the appropriate residence permit. Additionally, citizens of countries belonging to the European Economic Area and the Swiss Confederation are exempt from this obligation. In their case, authorization is necessary only for the acquisition of agricultural and forest real estate.

It is worth hurrying, as if a foreigner who acquired real estate forming part of the inheritance based on a will does not obtain the permission of the competent minister for internal affairs on the basis of an application submitted within two years from the date of the opening of the inheritance, the property ownership or perpetual usufruct rights are acquired by persons who would be called to the inheritance by law.

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Inheritance in Poland