Global Property Guide

Financial Information for Residential Property Buyers


Inheritance tax and law

Last Updated: May 24, 2016

The Global Property Guide looks at inheritance from two angles: taxation, and what inheritance laws apply to foreigners leaving property in Poland: what restrictions there are and whether making a will is advisable.

INHERITANCE TAX

How high are inheritance taxes in Poland?

Gifts and inheritances of Polish property are subject to taxation. The beneficiaries are liable to pay these taxes. The tax is levied on the market value of the property less debts and related expenses.

The tax rates depend on the value of the property inherited and the relationship between the deceased and the beneficiaries. There are three categories of beneficiaries: Category 1, Category 2, and Category 3. A part of the inheritance is exempt from taxation and the tax-free amount depends on the beneficiary's classification.

Category 1 beneficiaries are spouses, children including adopted and stepchildren, sons and daughters-in-law, parents, stepparents, parents-in-law, brothers and sisters). The tax-free amount for Category 1 beneficiaries is PLN9,637 (€2,328).


INHERITANCE TAX - CATEGORY 1 BENEFICIARIES

TAX BASE, PLN €) TAXABLE RATE
Up to 9,637 (€2,142) 0%
9,637 - 10,278 (€2,284) 3%
10,278 - 20,556 (€4,568) 5%
Over 20,556 (€4,568) 7%
Source: Global Property Guide

The inheritance and gifts to Category 1 recipients of a property up to the value that corresponds to 110 sq. m. of the property are exempt from taxation subject to certain conditions. The same can apply to the inheritance of Category 2 and 3 recipients under certain conditions.

Category 2 beneficiaries are nieces and nephews, spouses of brothers and sisters). The tax-free amount for Category 2 beneficiaries is PLN7,276 (€1,617).

INHERITANCE TAX - CATEGORY 2 BENEFICIARIES

TAX BASE, PLN €) TAXABLE RATE
Up to 7,276 (€1,617) 0%
7,276 - 10,278 (€2,284) 7%
10,278 - 20,556 (€4,568) 9%
Over 20,556 (€4,568) 12%
Source: Global Property Guide

Category 3 beneficiaries are all other beneficiaries not classified in Category 1 and 2. The tax-free amount for Category 3 beneficiaries is PLN4,902 (€1,089).


INHERITANCE TAX - CATEGORY 3 BENEFICIARIES

TAX BASE, PLN €) TAXABLE RATE
Up to 4,902 (€1,089) 0%
4,902 - 10,278 (€2,284) 12%
10,278 - 20,556 (€4,568) 16%
Over 20,556 (€4,568) 20%
Source: Global Property Guide

INHERITANCE LAW

What inheritance laws apply in Poland?

The national law of the deceased is applicable to inheritance issues in Poland.

The main laws regulating inheritance in Poland are the Civil Code, Civil Procedure Code and Private International Law.

The applicable law in matters of inheritance is the national law of the country where the deceased was a citizen at the time of his/her death. In the case of a Polish citizen, Polish law would apply. If the deceased had more than one nationality, including Polish, then Polish law is still applicable. If the deceased was a citizen of more than one country, then the applicable law is that of the country to which the testator was most closely connected.

Polish courts have jurisdiction if the inheritance proceedings relate to real estate located in Poland.

The circumstances are similar in the case of perpetual usufruct, usufruct, easement, and mortgage. If a deceased foreigner leaves real estate in Poland, and an heir cannot confirm his/her rights to the inheritance in a court in the country of nationality of the deceased, then the Polish court has jurisdiction in the matter of confirming the acquisition, irrespective of whether the heir is a Polish citizen, or a foreigner.

An application for confirmation of inheritance should be made to the Civil Division of the District Court competent for the last, permanent place of residence of the deceased. If this place cannot be confirmed, the court in the geographical location of the estate is the competent court. The court proceedings to ascertain whether a person is an heir involve a hearing, which usually lasts between one and three months. Foreign court rulings, which confirm that a person is an heir, depend on the Polish court recognising the judgment. The application for recognition of a foreign judgement should be filed at the District Court competent for the geographical location to examine the issue.

The Polish court examines ex officio who is the heir; however, the court cannot examine what components comprise the estate. If there is a dispute concerning the ownership of property title in the proceedings, this is resolved by separate proceedings. In accordance with Polish Private International Law, the country where the property is located has jurisdiction in matters of ownership and other property rights.

Under Polish law, within six months of the date on which the heir became aware of his/her appointment, he/she must make a declaration to either accept or reject the inheritance. If there is no declaration made by the heir within the above period, this is deemed as unreserved acceptance (liability for debts); however, if the heir is a minor, or if there is no declaration by the heir within six months, it is deemed that the inheritance is accepted, but limited to the value of assets (without liability for debts).

If a person dies intestate, inheritance follows the provisions of the Civil Code.

If there is no will, the deceased's children and surviving spouse are entitled automatically under statute to inherit equal portions; however the portion falling to the spouse cannot be less than one quarter of the total estate. If the intestate person has no descendants, the surviving spouse, parents and siblings inherit under statute. The surviving spouse's portion of the inheritance which he/she inherits jointly, or with parents or siblings, or with the parents and siblings of the deceased, equals one half of the estate.

If a foreigner inherits ownership title to real estate in Poland, the Act on the Acquisition of Real Estate by Foreigners does not apply so long as the foreigner is entitled to inherit under statute from the deceased. In accordance with the above, no permission is required for inheritance of real estate by a foreigner who inherits under statute.

Relatives of the deceased are authorized to a reserved portion.

The basic rule in inheritance law in Poland is the freedom to make a will. The right to a reserved portion arises when the testator has made a will, and appointed persons outside the immediate family as heirs, or disinherits them completely or, when the portion of inheritance awarded to a relative does not cover the statutory reserved portion which he/she is entitled to.

The persons authorised to the reserved portion are limited to:

  • The offspring of the testator, but if none survive the testator, then grandchildren, great grandchildren (descendants);
  • The spouse;
  • The parents of the testator, but only if the testator leaves no descendants and they were appointed automatically as heirs under statute.

Children, spouses and parents of the testator, who would have been automatically appointed as heirs under statute, are entitled to a half of that portion of the inheritance to which they would be entitled under statute. However, if a beneficiary is permanently unfit for work, or is a minor, he/she is entitled to two thirds of that portion.

If a natural person leaves no automatic inheritors, the district or the State Treasury inherits. The district inherits when the last place of residence of the testator was in Poland. However, if it was abroad, the State Treasury inherits.

A will made by a foreigner is valid if it is made according to the law of the country where the will was drawn up.

In Poland, it is not customary to make a will. Research centres of public opinion indicate that only a few percent of Polish people make a will.

The Polish Supreme Court takes the stance that, in order for the will of a foreigner to be valid in Poland, it is enough for the will to be made in the form allowed by law in the country where it was drawn up, irrespective of what property is included in the inheritance.

A person who wants to make a will in Poland must have full legal capacity. He/she must be 18 years old and cannot be under a legal disability. A will cannot be made by a legal representative or by proxy. The will can only be made in one of the forms allowed by law. A will in Poland can be made by three methods:

  • In the testator's own hand (hand written will) - this type of will must be written by the testator and signed and dated by him,
  • By a notary public (as a notarial deed)
  • Before the district administrator (w√≥jt) (mayor or president of the city), secretary of the district (sekretarz gminy) or the Registrar of the Office of Births Deaths and Marriages, in the presence of two witnesses (the will is made orally before an official and two witnesses).

Assets can be freely given during the lifetime of the owner.

Polish law does not provide for restrictions in administering personal assets. Such assets can be freely donated. However, the declaration of a donor must be made by notarial deed. A legal representative of a person without legal capacity may demand termination of a donation agreement which was concluded whilst the donor still had full legal capacity, if the donation, because of its value and lack of justification, is excessive. It is not possible to demand termination of a donation agreement after two years have elapsed from its execution.

Minors must have legal representatives.

There are no impediments to minors inheriting under a will. When a person inherits (including a minor) he/she becomes a beneficiary ex lege at the time of death of the deceased. In principle no specific action need be taken by the legal representatives of a minor; however, in court proceedings a minor must be represented by legal representatives.

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