What is a claim for the legitim?

Legitim is an institution regulated by inheritance law which protects the next of kin of the deceased person. The circle of individuals who are entitled to the legitim may include the descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.). Right to legitim means that people who were closest to the deceased receive the right to claim a specific sum of money, either from the testamentary heirs or from individuals to whom the deceased had made a donation. Pursuant to inheritance law, the value of the legitim corresponds to a half of the share of inheritance received under statutory succession. If the entitled person is a minor or is permanently incapable of work, they may claim an equivalent of two-thirds of such a share. If the person authorised to the estate fails to pay the legitim voluntarily, the authorised relative shall reserve the right to file a claim for the legitim with a court within five years following the testator’s death.

For instance, if a father of one child transferred by virtue of a donation or the Last Will in favour of his informal partner his entire property consisting of an apartment worth PLN 600 000, the omitted child reserves the right to the legitim. In such a case, the child may file a claim for the legitim against the person who received the property. If at the time of distribution of the estate the child of the deceased was of legal age, s/he may claim half of his/her statutory inheritance share i.e. PLN 300 000 and PLN 400 000 if s/he was still a minor.

Our law office has been specialising in succession cases for over 10 years. Our lawyers provide legal assistance in the case of claims for the legitim and represent clients before courts and in the course of pre-trial negotiations. We treat each case with topmost care and commitment. Our clients maintain regular contacts with us and are systematically updated.

How to obtain the legitim?

If the next-of-kin of the deceased has been omitted in the Last Will or has not received any substantial donation, s/he may demand the legitim. First of all, the value of the legitim must be calculated, which is quite complex and requires a profound knowledge of the inheritance law. Our lawyers will be happy to provide you with necessary information in this area. We will also help you determine the mass of succession and the circle of statutory heirs. When determining the value of the legitim, apart from the succession estate, one needs to take into account certain donations made by the deceased. Next, one needs to determine the circle of statutory heirs authorised to share the estate and some donations.

As soon as the value of the legitim has been determined, the parties should take efforts to settle their dispute amicably and out of court. Apart from allowing them to save time and money, such negotiations are also prescribed by the laws governing civil proceedings.

However, if parties fail to settle their dispute in the course of such pre-trial negotiations, the party authorised to the legitim may file a claim for the legitim with the court. In such a case, our lawyers will provide him/her with advice concerning necessary documents, duration of the proceedings and correlated judicial costs. Our law office assists our clients in the course of such proceedings also outside of Warsaw.

A claim for the legitim, as opposed to the confirmation of estate acquisition, is a legal action instituted by the authorised party (plaintiff) against the person liable for payment (respondent). This makes court proceedings much more formalised. As a consequence, any violation of procedural requirements by the authorised party may result in losing his/her case.

For these reasons, our clients prefer to entrust their judicial matters to professionals. This allows them to save time, because they do not have to appear at each trial in person. Moreover, they can rest assured that all formal requirements are fulfilled by their attorneys, who know how to protect their interests efficiently.

We also help people who reside abroad to process their claims for the legitim at courts in Warsaw.

How to avoid payment of the legitim?

In some circumstances, our law provides for the possibility of avoiding payment of the legitim. In certain situations, such as disinheritance, even the next-of-kin of the deceased is not entitled to the legitim. According to the inheritance law, disinheritance is an instrument which can be used by the testator in order to deprive his/her relative of the legitim for specific reasons. However, the reasons for disinheritance which may be referred to by the testator have been very precisely defined by legislation. Hence, disinheritance will be ineffective if the testator points out to any reasons other than those prescribed by the inheritance law. Therefore, the reasons for disinheritance should be consulted with a lawyer in order to effectively avoid the legitim. It should be stressed, however, that disinheritance is not the only way of avoiding this obligation.