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Polish and English intestacy rules – a comparison

If someone dies without a Will it can be difficult to deal with their estate accordingly. Both England and Poland have separate laws to address different circumstances.

In both England and Poland, when a single person with no children dies, close relatives will inherit their assets. This consists of brothers, sisters and parents. If however, there are no close relatives to inherit the assets, in England they are passed to the Crown, and in Poland the Treasury. Alternatively, when a single or divorced person with children dies, the assets will be split equally between the children. If a child of the deceased has also died their share will be passed to their children, if applicable. These rules apply uniformly for Poland and England.
The differences in rules applying to intestacy is apparent when a married person dies but has no children. In England the deceased partner will inherit all the assets, whereas Polish rules state that the partner of the deceased with receive half of the assets. Parents, brothers and sisters are entitled to the other half. In the case of no brother of sister being alive, their share will be passed to their children.
Differences between English and Polish intestacy rules are also apparent when comparing who inherits when a married person dies with children.
In England the remaining husband/wife will inherit all the personal property of the deceased along with the first £250,000 of their assets. If the deceased’s assets are valued greater than £250,000 then anything over this amount is split in to two halves. The spouse inherits one half and the other half is split equally between the deceased’s children. In the event of any child of the deceased dying before them, their children will inherit their share.
In contrast, Polish rules state that the remaining spouse and children will all inherit an equal share of the estate and remaining wealth. This does however, vary depending on the amount of children because the husband/wife must receive at least one quarter of the whole estate. Thus in a family with a remaining spouse and two children each will receive one third of the estate. In the case where a family has four or more children the remaining husband/wife will receive one quarter and the remainder is split equally between the number of children. A similarity in the Polish and English rules applies in the instance where a child dies before their parent; in this case their children (the grandchildren of the deceased) will inherit their share.
With no Will the family will still benefit under both instances, however, it is still advisable to have a Will to reflect ones wishes rather than leaving it to the state. With a Will you have the opportunity to express funeral wishes, guardians for any minor children and choose executors to administer your estate.
For further advice or information please call the Private Client Team 0800 088 6004.