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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Testament. When is it valid? Important judgment of the Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court held that failure to maintain the correct form of the will should not undermine the will of the testators. Primacy should be given first of all to the will of the testators – emphasized the Supreme Court in its judgment granting the extraordinary complaint of the Prosecutor General. The case concerns the transfer of real estate to a daughter by marriage in 1980. The district court will revisit this inheritance.

The National Prosecutor’s Office informed PAP about the decision of the Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs Chamber of the Supreme Court in this case. The case concerned the decision of the District Court in Mińsk Mazowiecki, which stated that the inheritance of the spouses had been acquired on the basis of an act and at the same time – as indicated by GUT – infringed their last will.

In 1980, the couple transferred the property to their daughter on the basis of a will drawn up in the presence of the secretary of the commune and town of Kałuszyn and two other witnesses. In addition to the daughter, the couple had two more sons.

Application for confirmation of inheritance acquisition

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At the end of 2010, a grandson – the son of a daughter who was to inherit the property in accordance with the parents’ will – filed a petition to the court to confirm the acquisition of the inheritance of the deceased grandparents. A granddaughter – the daughter of one of the sons – also participated in the inheritance proceedings. The third son did not take a position on the matter.

“In the course of the inheritance proceedings, the District Court in Mińsk Mazowiecki questioned two witnesses of the will. Both testifying women confirmed the authenticity of the last will of the marriage, and the then secretary of the Kałuszyn office, referring to the shape of the will, stated that she considered that since the will constituted the disposal of the joint property of the marriage their last will is also common and is reflected in one document” – reported the National Prosecutor’s Office.

However, it was the form of the will that turned out to be crucial for the court. In December 2011, the Minsk court ruled that inheritance in this case should take place on the basis of a law, since the will was invalid. According to the Civil Code, a will may contain dispositions of only one testator.

Therefore, the district court in its decision divided the property between the three siblings. At that time – as PK informed – the son of the beneficiary of the will applied to the Prosecutor General for an extraordinary complaint.

Extraordinary complaint of the Prosecutor General

“After analyzing the case of PG Zbigniew Ziobro filed an extraordinary complaint with the Supreme Court, alleging that the last will of the testators was not respected, contrary to applicable regulations, including the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.

According to Ziobro in the case, the court should recognize the formally invalid will written in 1980 as two valid oral wills of the testators.

The Supreme Court upheld this complaint from the State Department. “In the justification for the ruling, the Supreme Court emphasized that the core of the law of succession is the freedom to shape the will. Inheritance under the act should only be of a subsidiary nature, in situations where no decision to appoint the circle of heirs has been made. In general, however, priority is given to the will of the testator. however, it is the state authorities’ responsibility to establish and secure appropriate procedures aimed at confirming the acquisition of inheritance.

“In this case, the obligation to protect all the rights of the testators was not fulfilled due to the secretary of the office failing to maintain the correct form of the will. However, this should not undermine the will of the testators” – the Supreme Court concluded.

At the same time, it was recalled that already in the resolution of 1971, the Supreme Court allowed for the possibility of transforming an invalid written will into valid oral wills.

Therefore, pursuant to the judgment of the Supreme Court, the decision of the District Court in Mińsk Mazowiecki was repealed and the case was referred to this court for re-examination.

Main photo source: Elizabeth Krzysztof / Shutterstock.com

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