Fear of imminent death – use of evidence in forensic-psychiatric expertise
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Instytut Psychologii, Wydział Filozofii Chrześcijańskiej, Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego w Warszawie
Submission date: 2017-10-18
Final revision date: 2018-01-22
Acceptance date: 2018-01-25
Online publication date: 2019-02-28
Publication date: 2019-02-28
Corresponding author
Przemysław Cynkier   

Instytut Psychologii. Wydział Filozofii Chrześcijańskiej. Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego w Warszawie, ul. Wóycickiego 1/3, budynek 14, 01-938 Warszawa, Polska
Psychiatr Pol 2019;53(1):191-201
In accordance with the Polish civil law, there are at least several ways to dispose of property in the event of death. One of them is a special form of oral testament. The main issue to be determined by the court is to either confirm or deny the existence of fear of imminent death of the testator at the time of bequest. For this purpose, the court uses expert psychiatrists’ opinions. The article presents a case of a man in the terminal phase of a malignant disease who used an oral form of bequest. Such cases are relatively rare and therefore the described case is intended to illustrate the complex nature of the expertise. It points to the need for the experts to take into account complex legal regulations, the observance of which stipulates the possibility of using this form of will. Factual assessment of the witnesses’ testimony complicates elaboration of the material, as the testimony is generally contradictory. It was proposed that the witnesses’ testimony should be sorted out in terms of substance (psychopathology), based on the analysis of the separated research areas. Medical records can be treated not only as a source of information about the dynamics of somatic diseases of the testator and secondary changes in his/her mental state. It can also be a valuable source of knowledge about the testator’s attitude to health and disease issues, treatment processes, prognosis, threat to his/her life and death.
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