Tomasz Kucharski


This article is devoted to an institution of European civil law known as familial fideicommissa, through which the status of familial estates could be modified to protect a particular family’s position and wealth. In this system, ownership of the estate was transferred to the whole family, and one male member was appointed as a ‘trustee’. The assets of this property were not subjected to standard inheritance law provisions and were excluded from other general civil law rules, and the trustee was not allowed to sell the estate, burden it with debt, or include it in his will. The article focuses on practical aspects of the functioning of familial fideicommissa in the interwar period. The author analyses five court cases associated with three instances of fideicommissa from the Radziwłł family, which are reconstructed from historical archival documents deponed in the Lithuanian State Archive in Vilnius. The author focuses on highlighting problems in the interpretation and implementation of the legal provisions of the Third Lithuanian Statute (1588) and the Digest of Laws of the Russian Empire (1832) on familial fideicommissa by Polish courts.