Death of a close person staying abroad is a difficult experience, especially when experienced at a distance and when apart from difficult emotions we have to deal with formalities connected e.g. with organisation of a funeral, repatriation of the body or inheritance proceedings. The longer a deceased stayed abroad, the more formalities rest upon his or her family (for instance, obtaining medical documentation, determining the components of an estate or even establishing the deceased’s marital status). If you have received inheritance from abroad, assistance of a sworn translator will be indispensable. A sworn translator not only translates all necessary official documents (from English into Polish and from Polish into English) or e-mail correspondence, but also provides interpreting services of phone calls with foreign offices and institutions. Also, interpreting a will (testament) in a notarial office for non-Polish speaking clients requires the assistance of a sworn interpreter. Documents requiring a certified translation include among others medical documentation of a deceased and a permit to transport the body/ashes to Poland. You will also need a certified translation of death certificate drawn up in the English language. Translation of other documents obtained from courts, financial institutions, or civil registry office will also be necessary at a later stage of the proceedings.

What is a notarized translation of a testament?

A notarised translation, or notarised interpreting, of a testament is a special type of service which is overseen by a notary public as a witness. Since a notary public might not be multilingual, he or she will be unable to check the accuracy of an interpreted testament. A signature of a notary public simply certifies that a sworn translator (interpreter) has sworn that the translation (interpreting) of a testament is true and accurate.


The formalities involved in closing the affairs left by a deceased include succession proceedings. Coming into an inheritance can take place under relevant legal act (so-called statutory succession, applicable if a person died intestate or if his/her last will and testament is invalid) or based on a last will and testament. In the later case, a testator or testatrix may select governing law applicable to inheritance proceedings and in the absence of such a choice (or defectiveness thereof), the conflict of law rules of the private international law shall prevail. The purpose of inheritance proceedings is acknowledgement of acquisition of the estate from a deceased and dividing it among legitimate heirs or heiresses. In case of a deceased who lived or had property abroad, most frequently a testament requires a certified translation. Often, documents which are the subject of a certified translation from the English language include death certificate translation (UK-based clients), bank documents, extracts from a land register, private correspondence and court documents such as foreign grant of probate (that is a document certifying authenticity / validity of a last will and testament and granting  an executor / executrix the right to act pursuant to instructions included therein). Depending on a specific case, it may be necessary to obtain a certified translation from the English language of some other documents issued by competent institutions and authorities, including the need to translate death certificate to English (e.g. confirmation of last place of residence of a deceased, copies of birth certificates, copies of marriage certificates, change of name deed) and statements made in writing by natural persons (e.g. declaration on acceptance or rejection of inheritance, declaration on renunciation of inheritance). It is impossible to list all the documents that may need to be translated (from English) by a sworn translator in order to conduct succession proceedings because their type and number are connected, at least partially, with an individual character of particular proceedings.

Who issues grant of probate?

In order to obtain a grant of probate in the United Kingdom, you need to fill in a probate application form. Step by step instruction is available at the HM Courts & Tribunals Service website: https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate/apply-for-probate.



Inheritance proceedings can be conducted in Poland in two ways: before a court of law or before a notary public. The first option is less expensive and more time-consuming. Each heir / heiress is entitled to file an application to acknowledge acquisition of the estate by a competent court (that is by a district court having jurisdiction over the last place of residence of a deceased). After completion of the proceedings (sometimes with participation of a sworn translator, if there is a need to interpret statements and explanations made before a court by persons who do not have command of the Polish language but can speak English), the court issues a decision on acknowledgement of acquisition of the estate together with determination of shares going to particular heirs / heiresses. It is possible to distribute the estate among heirs / heiresses only upon delivery of such a decision. The second option envisages issuance of deed of succession certification by a notary public in the presence of all heirs / heiresses (without possibility to appoint a proxy in this respect). Also in this situation sometimes assistance of a sworn interpreter of the English language is needed during an activity conducted in a notarial office (e.g. when one of the heirs / heiresses is a foreigner who does not speak Polish fluently). Once a notarial deed of succession certification is registered in the Register of Deeds of Succession Certification (RAPD), it becomes immediately enforceable and has the same binding effect as a legally binding court decision.


When it comes to cases related to succession proceedings conducted in countries with Anglo-Saxon legal culture (for instance in Great Britain, the United States, Australia or Canada), heirs and heiresses most often use assistance of a professional lawyer who specialises in dealing with formalities before competent courts and offices. Such professional executor / executrix can efficiently determine a group of heirs and heiresses, condition of the estate, determine assets of the estate, search for possible creditors of the deceased and settle debts pertaining to the estate (including tax obligations of the deceased) before distributing the estate among legitimate heirs and heiresses. Foreign procedure of distribution of the estate usually entails a necessity to order a certified translation of a number of documents into English for the purpose of confirming identity of the heir / heiress, his/her relationship with the deceased or other inheritance title, or bank documents confirming data for transfer of a part of the estate to which a given person is entitled. If an asset constituting an estate is located in Poland, it is necessary to order a certified translation of the already mentioned document confirming validity of testament and legal title of the executor / executrix to act before Polish authorities, so‑called Grant of Probate. However, in case of titles to a real estate, only Polish courts are competent regardless of whether given proceedings have been conducted before a foreign court or not. The last stage of inheritance procedure pending before authorities of other countries is distribution of the estate made most frequently in a form of a transfer of particular amount to a bank account of the heir / heiress. Sometimes foreign banks require confirmation of specific data by phone before making a transfer. In such a situation, a sworn interpreter interprets such a phone call or video conferencing in the Polish-English language pair. An additional aspect, immensely significant from a financial point of view, is submission of relevant documents confirming acquisition of inheritance by an heir or heiress with a competent Tax Office, attached with a certified translation from the English language.


The Office of the Sworn Translator and Interpreter of the English Language, Jacek Kasprzyk offers comprehensive translation and interpreting services, covering both uncertified and certified translations of documents as well as interpreting of notarial actions, court hearings and phone calls with foreign institutions. If you have received documents in the English language and would like to obtain reliable and quick information regarding cost of translation, feel free to make use of the TRANSLATION QUOTE FORM available on our website: www.tlumaczenia-kasprzyk.pl or to send scans or photos of such documentation directly to our E-mail address: kancelaria@tlumaczenia-kasprzyk.pl.

For larger number of documents or inability to use our remote price estimation, visit us at the Office of the Sworn Translator and Interpreter of the English Language Jacek Kasprzyk located at ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego 29A lok. 417 in Wrocław with documents requiring sworn translation from English into Polish (or from Polish into English). Estimation of the price of translation services is always free of charge. Translations are made by a sworn translator of the English language entered into the list kept by the Ministry of Justice who has vast experience in translating legal documents and knowledge of differences between Polish and Anglo-Saxon legal systems as well as the degree of Master of Laws from the University of Wrocław. You are more than welcome to use English – Polish translation and interpreting services (certified and uncertified) of our legal translators.

Sworn Translator and Interpreter of the English Language in Wrocław

Jacek Kasprzyk

zdjęcia: freepik.com