Italian Will. Why Is It Worth Drafting An Italian Will?

Why is it worthwhile making an Italian will?

If you own property in Italy, having an Italian will can prevent all sorts of difficulties for heirs when transferring ownership of an Italian property.

In Italy, the disposal of an estate occurs in compliance with the decisions of the testator as set out in an will. Or, where the deceased was intestate, in accordance with inheritance law.

in Italy, the law requires that a public notary authenticate a will before probate can begin.

Although, generally speaking, Italy recognises the validity of international wills, they can raise a number of difficulties. As a matter of fact, a notary cannot publish or legalise documents in a foreign language until a court-sworn translator has translated them into Italian. This entails additional cost. It can also lead to misinterpretations of the testator’s wishes regarding disposal of an estate. Sorting out any misunderstandings may end up being another costly and lengthy matter.

It is also worth bearing in mind that having an Italian will can speed up  administrative procedures. For example, with banks. In Italy, accounts and deposits of the deceased are frozen following an account holder’s death. The procedure to access funds can be a difficult and protracted process. Heirs will have to pay certain expenses from their own pockets in the meantime.

In summary. The main advantages to making an Italian will are threefold

1. Reduces the risk of conflict among heirs.

2. Creates possible inheritance tax reductions for heirs.

3. Makes the decedent’s wishes clear to Italian authorities.

A competent legal advisor can help you draft a will that complies with EU Succession Regulations and Italian law. This limits the effects of legal succession in Italy and ensures that the estate is disposed of according to the testator’s wishes, without violating EU and Italian succession regulations.

Finally …

Inheritance is a complex matter. In addition, if you own assets in more than one country, this can further compound the complexity. We recommend you seek independent legal advice regarding your personal situation. If we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

For more information about succession and inheritance in Italy, you may find our Italian Succession Guide useful.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters. We are a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.

 

You may also be interested in Legitimate Heirs. Rights of “Forced Heirs” in Italian Inheritance

Changes to layout of property interiors in Italy

Interior changes to layout in Italian properties do not always require planning and building permission

Recently, the Italian government has simplified the paperwork necessary for renovation and building work. As part of these efforts, new legislation was introduced in 2014. Measures include a Notice of Commencement of Work – Comunicazione Inizio Lavori (CIL). A CIL allows home owners to carry out certain interior changes to layout of a property. This means that home owners no longer need to apply for planning and building permits.

Regional variations apply however, making certain changes to interior layout of a property has become easier. For example, work involving  removal or moving internal dividing walls.

Essentially, provided changes to layout neither substantially change the use of the property nor increase its footprint, a CIL is sufficient.

Case law pertaining to change of layout

A case in Lazio involved a man who modernised the apartment he owns in Rome. The man wanted to remove a couple of walls in his apartment to create an open-plan kitchen and living space. Having found a builder to do the work, the man filed a CIL with the Comune. From a legal point of view, if a Comune fails to respond to a CIL within 30 days of a home owner filing it, work can begin.

Six weeks after filing the CIL, not having heard anything from the Comune, the man and his builder carried out the work. Two weeks after completing the renovation work, the Municipal Police visited the apartment to inspect the work. The police alleged that the owner had not obtained the requisite planning and building permits. They said the renovations were therefore illegal.

A few weeks later, the owner received an order from the Comune to return the apartment to its original state. Having sought legal advice, the home owner took the Comune to court.

The Regional Administrative Court in Lazio ruled in favour of the property owner, (Tar Lazio, sez. I quater, 17 October 2015 n. 11831). The court found in the home owner’s favour stating that the owner had correctly filed a CIL. As the home owner had heard nothing back from the Comune, this constituted tacit approval of the proposed work. While his demolition and renovation work changed the floor-plan and layout of internal spaces, the work neither substantially changed the use of the space nor increased the overall size of the apartment. Thus, the court ruled that the work did not require planning or building permission.

How to file a CIL for changes to interior layout

A CIL form and local regulations regarding planning, building, health and safety can be obtained from your Comune. Some municpalities have put the form and regulations online for convenience.

Finally …

The key to making your Italian property project as safe and smooth as possible is to appoint a legal team that speaks your language. De Tullio Law Firm has a thorough understanding of Italian property law and decades of experience managing Italian property transactions and renovations. Get in touch with us.

You may also be interested in Italian Property: Who Is Liable for Defects in Building Work in Italy? You may also like to watch our info videos on the subject of Italian property law.

Wills. Do You Have A Valid Will That Covers All Your Assets?

Are your affairs in order? Wills are important – especially if you own assets in more than one jurisdiction

The independent professional body for solicitors in England and Wales has warned that the consequences of dying without a valid will can be dire for those left behind. The research revealed that 73 per cent of 16-54 year olds don’t have wills. Whereas 64 per cent of people over the age of 55 have made their final wishes clear in a will.

The research also found that men are more likely to have a will and keep it updated than women.

Twenty-three per cent of respondents wrongly believed that without a will, their possessions would automatically go to their family.

Dying intestate not only means your final wishes will probably go unheeded, but the financial and emotional mess is left for your loved ones to sort out. This need not be your final legacy.

Owning property in Italy adds to the complexity for heirs if you die intestate

If the deceased was resident in Italy at the time of death, Italian Inheritance law applies to the deceased’s worldwide assets.

If the deceased lived outside Italy, Italian inheritance law is only applicable to assets in Italy.

This means that foreign nationals with a second home in Italy are subject to international succession procedures.

Generally speaking, Italy recognises the validity of international wills. However, a will in a foreign language needs to be translated by a sworn translator before a notary can register and publish it. This involves cost, takes time and may lead to misinterpretation.

It is therefore advisable for non-Italian nationals who own assets in Italy to draft an Italian will to cover those assets.

Why should you have an Italian will for your assets in Italy?

Firstly, having an Italian will minimises misunderstandings and/or conflicts amongst heirs. Secondly, it facilitates legislative, linguistic and jurisdictional matters with the Italian authorities. Thirdly, having an Italian will can reduce estate tax and lastly, it simplifies the whole inheritance procedure.

Making a will is usually a relatively simple process but we urge people to use a qualified, insured solicitor because he or she will be able to spot cross-border nuances that could lead to trouble later on if not properly addressed.

You need to list all the assets that you would like to include in your Italian will . For example, Italian property, vehicles you keep in Italy, bank accounts and so on.

Estate planning should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. You should review and update your will as your family and circumstances change. This would include when you make an international investment such as buying property in Italy.

EU Succession Regulations: choice of law in wills

EU Law 650/2012, also known as the Brussels IV Regulation came into effect on 17thAugust 2015. Brussels IV contains a provision for individuals to make an election in their wills for the country of their nationality, or where individuals have multiple nationalities any one of their nationalities, to apply to the devolution of their estate.

Interestingly, there are also potential benefits for non-EU nationals. However, again, appropriate action in the form of a choice of law clause in a will is necessary.
Nominating a country law needs careful consideration. You should take into account matters such as foreign matrimonial regimes, usufruct, tax consequences, joint ownership structures and other foreign proprietary rights with respect to your estate.

Finally …

Because each case is different, you should seek professional support and advice relating to wills.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters throughout Italy. Our firm is also a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.

Please contact us if you have any questions about making an Italian will or if would like to discuss your situation.

You may also be interested in How to write an Italian Will.

To find out more about Italian inheritance, you might find our Guide to Italian Inheritance helpful.

Power of Attorney Or Procura in Italy

Clients engage me because they trust my knowledge and experience to handle their legal affairs in Italy

Power of attorney or procura

Giandomenico De Tullio. Managing Partner. De Tullio Law Firm.

Clients often confer a power of attorney on me. This allows me to manage some or all their financial and legal affairs in Italy. It is important to understand the legal ramifications in the event you need a power of attorney or procura in Italy. A procura is frequently used for property transactions and inheritance matters.

While you may have heard of a procura, you may not be entirely sure what purpose it serves. In order to shed a little light on the subject, here are a few facts about a power of attorney or procura.

What is a procura?

A procura is a legal instrument. In accordance with Italian law, it must take the form of a notarised deed.

In effect, a procura allows you, the “principal”, to give powers to someone else, your “attorney”. The attorney may then act on the principal’s behalf.

The legal instrument specifies exactly what powers the principal gives to their appointed attorney.

Are there different types of Power of Attorney or procura in Italy?

There are two types of power of attorney in Italy, “procura speciale” and “procura generale”. The type of procura you choose will depend on whether you are granting it for specific tasks or for the execution of a series of activities not determined in advance.

Procura speciale

The powers of a procura speciale are limited. In conferring this type of procura, the principal gives very specific tasks and or limited powers to their appointed attorney. For instance, if you are purchasing a property in Italy, but cannot be in Italy to sign the deed of sale, you can confer a procura speciale on someone to sign the deed of sale on your behalf.

Likewise, for example, if you live abroad and have inherited assets in Italy but you are unable to travel to Italy to start the inheritance process. In this case, you could appoint an attorney to start probate for you or re-register assets in your name or organise the division of assets between co-heirs.

Procura generale

A procura generale entitles your appointed attorney to do almost anything you, the principal, could do. In effect, you would be delegating the management of all your legal and financial affairs.

In what circumstances can a Power of Attorney be revoked?

A principal can use the notarised deed to expressly revoke either a procura speciale  or a procura generale at any time. Otherwise, the deed usually expires with the principal’s death.

Sometimes however, a principal may decide to make a procura irrevocable. In this case, even when the principal dies or if the principal becomes legally incapcitated, the attorney’s powers to manage the principal’s affairs endure.

What should you consider if you are think of conferring a Power of Attorney?

You should be extremely careful about who you chose as your attorney. You are delegating the management of legal and financial matters to someone else. Hence, it is extremely important that you entrust these matters to a reliable and competent person, preferably a professional such as a lawyer. Appointing anyone who does not have enough experience or who may have a conflict of interests is highly inadvisable.

What are the legal requirements for a Power of Attorney?

As a procura involves drafting a legal document, you should seek independent professional advice. Because each case is different, there isn’t a one size fits all solution. The principal must clearly define the attorney’s tasks and responsibilities.

As previously mentioned, in order for a procura to be legal in Italy, it must be a notarised deed. You can sign the  document while you are in Italy, or in your home country.

Depending on your home country, the document may need to be authenticated by an apostille. You should be able to check procedures for your home country online, or we would be happy to advise you.

Finally …

Giving someone a power of attorney or procura is a very sensitive legal matter. You are granting the management of all or some of your legal and financial affairs to someone else. Make sure you seek the help of an independent legal professional before conferring a power of attorney or procura.

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice throughout Italy. We are specialists in cross border property, inheritance and family law. We are a member of STEP a global professional body, comprising lawyers, accountants, trustees and other practitioners that help families plan for their futures.

Contact us today. We are here to help.

Italian Conveyancing Lawyers

Italian conveyancing is the legal transfer of property ownership from vendor to buyer

Italian conveyancing starts when the vendor accepts your formal reservation offer. It finishes after you have signed the deed of sale.

How long the Italian property purchasing process takes depends on all sorts of things. How many buyers and vendors are involved? Often Italian properties are owned by several heirs. It may take time for all the co-heirs to agree to sell. Legal issues may also impact the the timing of the conveyancing process. For example, concerns about the location, planning, zoning, whether the property is off-plan or partially built. Basically, the whole process can take weeks or months.

Although it is not a legal requirement in Italy to engage a lawyer when purchasing a property, an experienced property lawyer can guide you through the complexities of Italian conveyancing and related paperwork as well as help resolve any legal issues that come up along the way. While instructing a lawyer may seem like an additional cost, prevention is always a less frustrating and expensive solution than remedying legal issues once you own an Italian property.

How can a lawyer help with Italian conveyancing?


EXPLANATIONS

Your lawyer will clarify the Italian property purchasing process for you. A lawyer can help identify what would be the best option in terms of purchasing structure, tax and any other issues relevant to your particular situation. Your lawyer will guide you through the process and provide legal support and advice throughout.

SEARCHES

There are things you may not know about the property just from viewing it with an estate agent or the vendor. These include structural and legal problems, which a lawyer can play a crucial role in identifying before you purchase.

For example, in a worst case scenario a failure to identify planning permission issues before you buy could generate consequences under criminal law. Once you have purchased an Italian property, it may be hard to rectify illegal work or planning discrepancies. In all likelihood it will be difficult to prove that the vendor was in fact the originator of the work. Legalising such problems can often be very costly and is sometimes impossible. Illegal work, when discovered, can lead to seizure of the property and a criminal court case. Seeking compensation from the vendors generally implies a litigation in court. This might take years and sometimes could turn out to be pointless if the vendors are unable to pay compensation. You may end up with a property that is unsaleable in the future.

Your lawyer will do a set of legal checks and searches for you and, where applicable your mortgage lender. Searches should include land registry titles and local authority planning and zoning compliance.

Environmental factors could be important too. For instance, some regions of Italy are particularly susceptible to ground stability issues, such as landslides and earthquakes. Your lawyer can help you arrange geological and structural surveys. If the survey finds anything out of the ordinary, your lawyer will be able to advise you what action you can take.

CONTRACTS

Throughout the Italian conveyancing process, your lawyer will check all documents and paperwork before you enter in to any legally-binding contracts. There are three contracts involved in Italian conveyancing. First, a Proposta. Second, the Compromesso and finally, the Atto di Vendita. Each contract involves handing over a deposit or payment. It is therefore crucial that you understand everything and resolve any property-related legal issues before you sign anything. Your lawyer will also make sure that completion dates are agreed and arranged.

COMPLETION

By law, a notary public – an official representative of the Italian State – must oversee the sale. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on choosing a notary and take all steps to help you complete the purchase safely. This would include where necessary, sworn translations of the atto di vendita,  help with transferring funds, collecting the new title deeds.

Italian law requires that all parties to a property transaction attend completion to sign the atto di vendita . Your lawyer will accompany you in case there are any ladt minute legal issues that need resolving. If you are not fluent in Italian but have an English-speaking lawyer, your lawyer will be able to translate for you. If for some reason you are unable to attend completion in person, your lawyer can complete on your behalf through a power of attorney.

Finally…

With over 55 years of experience as specialist property lawyers throughout Italy, we strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice before purchasing any property in Italy. If you would like to discuss your situation, please get in touch. We are here to help.

For more comprehensive information on Italian conveyancing process, you might like to read our Property Buying Guide or look at our Property Buying Checklist. You may also like to watch our info videos on the subject of Italian property law.

Hidden Defects. Buying An Italian Property

Hidden defects. Buyer beware!

Where exactly do you stand if you discover hidden defects with your Italian property following completion?

You move into your dream Italian home to find a nightmare situation.

This is exactly what happened to the Wright family in Lazio. The day after moving in, they discovered there was serious water penetration in several rooms in the house, notably the kitchen and living room.

Disclosure of hidden defects in Italy

Following their discovery, the Wrights raised the matter with the estate agent and the previous owners. They denied there was a serious problem. The notary who had overseen the sale said the Wrights had signed a legally binding preliminary contract declaring that they were purchasing the property ‘in condition as seen’. As such, there was nothing the notary could do.

Well possibly, but Italian law on this issue is not quite so clear cut. In general, the principle of, ‘caveat emptor’ – buyer beware, applies as much in Italian law as it does elsewhere. The onus is therefore on the buyer to conduct thorough due diligence relating to a property before buying it.

In Italy the seller has an obligation to disclose to the buyer all ‘important information’ concerning the property. However, there is nothing in Italian law that specifically defines these disclosures to the buyer. The law states that important information must be of a profound nature. Something which the seller was aware of at the time of the sale. An issue that if the buyer had known about it, would have halted the purchase, or they would have offered a lower price for the property.

Litigation

A vendor is obliged to disclose any ‘hidden defects’ (“vizi occulti“) in the property. If the vendor fails to disclose hidden defects, then it is possible for a court of law to annul the sale, or at least reduce the price of the property.

The Wrights ended up in litigation in order to obtain compensation. However, if the Wrights had sought advice from a lawyer before signing the preliminary contract, they could have avoided a lot of heartache not to mention a costly and time-consuming court case.

A strong preliminary contract is your best protection against hidden defects

Real estate agents generally offer a standard, one size fits all preliminary contract form. The form contains a legally binding, standard exclusion clause pertaining to ‘sight as seen condition’.

If you are in the process of buying a property in Italy before you sign a standard preliminary contract, check to see if it contains a sight as seen clause. The wording may vary but would be something like this: “L’acquirente dichiara di aver preso visione dello stato di fatto in cui attualmente si trova quanto promesso in vendita, di averne valutato le caratteristiche e le qualità (anche ai fini della determinazione del prezzo di vendita) e di accettarle integralmente”.

In practice whether a court of law upholds this clause depends on the circumstances of the case. If the court considers that the vendor has deliberately misled the buyer, then the judge may annul the clause.

Our advice to buyers is that you should always seek legal advice before signing any legally binding document. You may request removal of the sight as seen clause from a preliminary contract. The vendor may well refuse to do this. If so, you should question why.

Finally …

Purchasing a property in Italy is a major investment for most people. The preliminary contract in Italian property purchases is key to buying safely. As Italian property law specialists, we recommend that you seek legal advice. Unless you understand exactly what you are buying and the commitment you are making, you should be cautious about signing anything.

If you are looking at a real estate investment in Italy, why not talk to us? De Tullio Law Firm can advise and guide you throughout your Italian property purchasing journey. We have over 55 years of experience working with clients on property, family and inheritance matters. Get in touch.

 

For more comprehensive information on Italian conveyancing process, you might like to read our Property Buying Guide or look at our Property Buying Checklist.