A testamentary provision is an obligation imposed on specific individuals as specified in the Polish will. In itself, it does not result in a material gain, as is the case, for example, with a bequest. This latter type of provision involves conveying a specific property right or object to a designated person – without any obligation attached, as is the case with a testamentary provision.
In Poland, a testamentary provision involves obligating a designated person to carry out a financial action for the benefit of another entity. In practice, such actions often amount to:
– Obligating the party subject to the provision to transfer ownership and deliver a specific item designated by its type or identity.
– Obligating the party subject to the provision to pay a specified monetary amount to a specific individual (natural or legal).
– Obligating the party subject to the provision to perform a specified service for the beneficiary of the provision.
– The obligation to establish a specific property right for the beneficiary of the bequest, such as separate ownership of a flat, perpetual usufruct, servitude, etc.
In reality, a simple bequest falls into the category of so-called testamentary debts. These include, among others, obligations not fulfilled by the deceased and the costs of their burial. As a rule, the heirs who have accepted the inheritance are responsible for these kinds of debts – often, they are also burdened with simple bequests.
In the event of non-compliance with an existing bequest, the person burdened with this obligation is liable for damages towards the beneficiary entitled to receive the specified material benefit. However, does this mean that the bequest must be fulfilled in every situation? What if the obligated party lacks the financial means to fulfill the deceased’s last will?
The heir burdened with a bequest can free themselves from this responsibility by renouncing the inheritance – they have only 6 months from the moment they became aware of their entitlement to the deceased’s estate (usually the day of the testator’s death or the moment of disclosing a valid will). Interestingly, the beneficiary of the bequest has the right to reject the bequest allocated to them – this is done by submitting a relevant statement to the party obligated to fulfill the bequest. If such a statement is not submitted, it is assumed that the beneficiary agrees to accept the specified material benefit.
A testamentary provision is a way of imposing a financial obligation on legal or testamentary heirs. It must be distinguished from a bequest, which transfers the ownership of a specific object or right to the beneficiary. A simple bequest burdens a specific heir proportionally to their share in the estate. One can only free themselves from it by rejecting the inheritance or resigning from receiving the bequest from the beneficiary entitled to it. All claims related to a bequest are subject to a five-year statute of limitations.
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Inheritance in Poland