How to write a Will
How to make a Will is a question that many people ask themselves.
Through a Will you can decide to whom your money and property should go after your death. Writing a Will allows you to be certain that you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than you need to. If your Will isn’t straightforward, it is advisable to seek advice from a lawyer. This will ensure that your Will is written in such a way that it is a legally valid document.
What is a Will?
A Last Will and testament is a legal document through which a person, the testator, establishes in writing how, all or part of, their property is to be distributed at death (article 587 of Italian Civil Code).
A Will, to be legally valid, can be made by anyone over the age of 18, who has not been deemed legally incapacitated. A person who has been made subject to a judicial disability order on the grounds of infirmity of mind may not make a Will according to article 591 of the Civil Code. A person is also deemed to be incapable of making a Will, according to this Civil Code article, if the person is proven to have been afflicted by incapacity for comprehension and intention at the time of making a Will. This is applicable even if the person is not officially subject to a judicial disability order.
The Italian law states that a Will is revocable at any time. The freedom to dispose of a testator’s assets upon their death is protected until their last breath. A testator must be free to change their wishes, and if they do so, any previous commitments would have no legal value.
The content of a Will is essentially patrimonial, because its object is the distribution of a testator’s assets after death. In a Will however, dispositions of a non-pecuniary nature, such as the recognition of a natural child, may also be made. The law states that these dispositions are effective if contained in a Will and do not have to be related in any way dispositions of a pecuniary nature.
Why make a Will?
The importance of making a Will is often underestimated. The Italian rules of forced heirship are very strict. Therefore whoever wants to derogate their assets should seek legal advice in order to ensure a Will is compliant with Italian and European succession rules.
Not only can a Will enable the testator to assign their assets to the appropriate beneficiary, but a Will could also be useful to prevent conflict among heirs, and perhaps permit a reduction in tax. A Will is absolutely appropriate to avoid causing problems for heirs, especially if you are a foreign national who owns real estate property in Italy.
How to make a Will?
As we have seen, a Will essentially includes all the patrimonial instructions of the testator, because its object is the destination of their goods after their death. However, the Will may also contain non-asset instructions, such as, for example, the recognition of a natural child. The law provides that these provisions take effect, if they are contained in an instrument in the form of a Will, even in the absence of instructions of a patrimonial nature.
An Italian Will must be handwritten, dated and signed by the testator. For straightforward cases, a template such as the one below can be used:
I undersigned …………………. dispose of my patrimony at the time of my death as follows.
I revoke all my previous testamentary dispositions.
I appoint as my universal heir of all my goods …………. (indicate surname, name and any relationship of kinship, if it is a stranger you should also indicate place and date of birth).
I give to ………… (indicate surname, name and any relationship, if it is a stranger it is appropriate to indicate place and date of birth) the following goods: …………………….. (clearly specify the goods).
Let’s see more specifically when it is advisable to make a Will in each case.
For more information about Italian inheritance
We have produced a comprehensive guide, which you can download.