Probate and Will, Trust & Estate Disputes

Polish and UK Assets but only a Polish Will: A Simplified Process

At the date of death the deceased had assets in both England and Poland.

The deceased left a Polish Will, made in accordance with Polish law, before a Polish notary.  The Will provided that the deceased’s assets be equally distributed between six beneficiaries.  Our clients were two of such beneficiaries.  The Will purported to deal with the entire estate, i.e.  not only assets located in Poland, but also those located in England.

The beneficiaries have already followed due process in Poland and obtained, as is required by Polish law, an order of the Court ‘Postanowienie’, determining who is entitled to receive what share of the estate.   The order of the Polish court allowed the beneficiaries to deal with assets located in Poland.  It did not however give them an automatic access to assets located in England.

The Polish Will the Deceased made was admissible to proof in England in accordance with the Wills Act 1963.  However, for the beneficiaries to be able to e.g. sell the English assets, they needed an English Grant.  Though it is possible to obtain an English Grant in respect of a Polish Will, it need not always be straightforward.

Importantly, Polish Wills do not usually make an appointment of specifically named executors. In the absence of an executor, we were required to make an application asking the English authorities to appoint executors from among the group of beneficiaries named in the Polish Will.  Only once such nomination was made, an application for a Grant could proceed.

When making an application for an English Grant in respect of a foreign Will, in addition to the Will and its translation, one needs an affidavit of the law of the country of domicile (in this case, Poland), from a suitably qualified person, confirming the Will’s validity.

Despite the fact that the purpose and therefore dicta of the order issued in Poland was not to inspect and confirm the validity of the Polish Will, we were able to successfully persuade the authorities here that the order the beneficiaries have already obtained in Poland did precisely that.   By confirming in its decision who is entitled to what share of the estate (as per the terms of the Will), the Polish court indirectly confirmed the validity of the Will under the law of Poland.  We have therefore convinced the English authorities that the otherwise usual requirement to produce an affidavit of Polish law, could be disposed of.

The Probate Registry accepted our case and issued a Grant of Letters of Administration to our clients, allowing them to deal with English assets and distribute them in accordance with the terms of the Polish Will.

If you would like to discuss any of the details in this case study, please contact us on 01892 510000. We are fortunate to have the benefit of a Polish speaker in the team with expertise in both its language and the law.

How can we help?

    Start now, get in touch