Register of wills in Poland - what is it for?


A will is a form of expression of the last will, thanks to which a designated person may inherit. In practice, it may take various forms - the Civil Code allows for many different possibilities of its preparation. It may be written down in a special register - it turns out, however, that this only applies to specific documents. Read the article and find out what the register of wills is, what types of wills can be entered in it and what is the purpose of this activity.

Register of wills - explanation of the concept of a will

Wills are considered both documents and legal acts related to the expression of the testator's last will. A will may be drawn up only by a person who has full legal capacity (e.g. is not incapacitated and is of legal age). We should also remember that one document may be drawn up only by one person - so it is forbidden to create joint wills (e.g. by spouses). Decision of the Supreme Court of 4 September 2008 (file reference number IV CSK 190/08)

Determining whether the document was drawn up by the testator with the will to make it a will is on the verge of factual findings and legal conclusions. The sphere of factual findings should include specifying the form and content of the document and the circumstances of its creation, which constitute the premises for the legal assessment of whether or not this document is a will. An element of the legal assessment is the inference from the findings about the will of the author of the document at the time of its preparation.

Register of wills and types of wills

Wills in force in Poland can be divided into two main categories:

  • ordinary wills - handwritten, notary and official;

  • special wills - oral, travel and military.

Each of the above-mentioned is characterized by individual features that determine its importance and effectiveness. However, only one of them can be entered in the testamentary register in force in Poland - of course, it is a notary will.

Register of wills and notarial will

Pursuant to Art. 950 of the Civil Code, a will may be drawn up in the form of a notarial deed - this obviously requires a visit to the office, or a notary's arrival at a designated place in the event of important reasons. Decision of the Supreme Court of June 14, 2012 (file reference number I CSK 564/11)

A notary may not perform a notarial act if he or she has doubts as to whether a party to the notarial act has legal capacity. This is not a matter of legal capacity within the meaning of Art. 11 of the Civil Code, but for situations justifying the supposition that there is a defect in the declaration of will. Therefore, a notary should refuse to perform a notarial act not only when the party to the act is formally incapacitated (Article 81 of the Act of 1991 - Law on Notaries in conjunction with Articles 13 and 16 of the Civil Code), but also when there is a justified doubt. whether such a website operates in a state of sufficient awareness (Art. 86 of the Act of 1991 - Law on Notaries in conjunction with Art. 82 of the Civil Code). It is about determining the handicap and its degree in relation to the person participating in the activity. This obligation does not mean the appointment of an expert doctor in each case, therefore performing an activity without the participation of such a doctor does not undermine the act of.

Register of wills - the most important information

Notarial wills may be entered in a special testamentary register (NORT) kept by the National Council of Notaries. Notarial wills may be entered into this particular register, irrespective of their content. The number of registered wills from one person is irrelevant. By law, the testator may create new documents containing his last will, which will supplement or revoke previous wills - each of them can be implemented in the NORT register.

Interestingly, handwritten wills may also appear in the register in question, provided, however, that the original of such a declaration of last will be submitted for storage in a selected notary's office.

In fact, entering a will in NORT is not obligatory - the testator decides each time. This register has been operating in Poland since October 5, 2011 - it means that before that date, unfortunately, we will not find any registered wills (neither notary nor handwritten, kept in selected notary offices).

A will is registered only by a notary public, at the express request of the testator. Information about the registration of the document in NORT must be provided in the notarial deed, which includes the declaration of the last will of the given person. Therefore, it is not possible for the testator to enter his will into the register in question on his own - only a notary has access to it. Interestingly, an application for registration of a will may be submitted at any time, not necessarily at the time of its preparation. It is therefore permissible for the testator to submit an appropriate application to the notary even several years after he has made his will with him.

Wills disclosed in NORT may be removed at any time - of course, at the express request of the testator. In practice, such a situation occurs most often when the client replaces the existing document with its new version (when the previous will is revoked and a new one is drawn up).

Entry in the register of wills is not only voluntary, but also free of charge - this also applies to the application for deregistration of a will that already exists in NORT. Notaries should therefore not charge any additional fees for these activities. § 7 Resolution No. VII / 46/2011 of the National Council of Notaries of June 4, 2011 on the creation of a register of wills and the rules of its operation

NORT includes:

- number resulting from the order of entry in the register,

- date of entry,

- the date and place of drawing up a notarial will or acceptance protocol for storing a personal will

- names, surname and seat of the notary's office, and if the notary's will or the protocol of keeping the personal will was prepared by the deputy notary, also the names and surname of the deputy,

- first names, surname, parents' names as well as the date and place of birth of the testator,

- PESEL number of the testator, if he is subject to the population register in Poland, and in the absence of this number, another, similar registration number, if assigned abroad.

Wills register - will search

The primary goal of NORT was to simplify and speed up the inheritance procedure that must be carried out in the case of inheritance (especially the testamentary one). In order to facilitate the task of the heirs, notaries have been calling for years that NORT should be obligatory in every case of leaving a will in the form of a notarial deed (for the time being, the register is voluntary).

Leaving a will in the notary's register guarantees that a given declaration of will will not be lost, and that the heirs will be able to easily access it after the testator's death. This is important especially when an extract of a will is lost or damaged. Registering a will significantly reduces the risk of it not being found or found late. Start a free 30-day trial period with no strings attached! NORT allows you to search the system using the PESEL number of the testator and attempt to find any notarized or handwritten will left by him. The activity of searching, however, is payable - its cost oscillates around PLN 100–150. The applicant can be basically any person, especially if it belongs to the immediate family of the deceased. However, in order for a notary to start searching at NORT, it is necessary to submit an application and submit a copy of the testator's death certificate. A report is prepared from the search, which includes information about the number of wills found and the notary office where they were drawn up, or about the lack of registered wills. Remember that NORT does not contain the data of the heirs appointed to inherit or the contents of the left will - to obtain this information, it is necessary to visit the office where the deceased's last will was drawn up. However, access to the content of the notarial deed requires demonstration of the applicant's legal interest - for example, the fact of being a potential heir of the testator or a member of his immediate family may be invoked.

It is worth noting here that the entry in NORT remains secret for the entire life of the testator. In other words, in order to obtain information about a left will, the applicant must provide a copy of the death certificate of the person - without such a document, no notary will search the register. It is permissible to use another document confirming the death of the testator (e.g. a legally valid decision of a given court or a translated foreign document).

Register of wills - summary

The register of wills in Poland is a system in which information about notarial and handwritten wills is stored, which have been submitted to a designated notary office for safekeeping. It is voluntary, but the entry is made at the testator's request. There is no additional charge. The register can also be used by all other persons if they are looking for a will left by the testator, provided that they are able to document the death of a potential testator.