We received this question from a reader wondering how to proceed with Italian assets. We hope that you find our answer helpful. If you have any queries related to Italian property or inheritance law, please send your questions to us. We are here to help.
A recent topic of discussion is that of Emphyteusis, a regime which has its roots in Roman Law. It formed part of the feudal system and is connected with the agricultural economy. Farmers were offered the possibility to cultivate land thereby sustaining themselves. In return, farmers paid an annual ground rent or canon in money and or in kind. Read more
Why is it worth drafting an Italian Will?
Be sure to prevent any problem!
It is generally recommended that foreign citizens owning assets in Italy draft an Italian Will. This will prevent significant difficulties that heirs might experience when transferring the ownership of Italian properties originally registered in the name of the testator. Under Italian law, all foreign Wills must be authenticated by an Italian Public Notary before going through the Italian probate process.
Although, generally speaking, Italy recognises the validity of international Wills, it is advisable for non-Italian citizens to draft an Italian Will if you own property on Italian territory (house or land). Managing documents drafted in a foreign language (and governed by different legal jurisdictions) in Italy can raise a number of difficulties. As a matter of fact, the Notary will not publish or legalise documents drafted in a foreign language unless they have been translated into Italian by a certified and qualified translator. Read more
What does ‘Unclaimed Italian Properties’ mean? Between 1861 and 1985 over 29 million Italians emigrated to other countries. About 18 million permanently settled abroad, predominantly in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Argentina. In 2011, there were 4,115,235 Italian citizens living outside Italy and several tens of millions of descendants of Italians, who emigrated in the last two centuries.
When Italian emigrants went abroad, they often left property and land in Italy. It is a myth that this property was confiscated by the Italian State. The reality is that the property is still here in Italy, unclaimed, and the original owners, deceased many years ago, are still on the title deeds. There are many thousands of these properties and parcels of land across Italy and in many cases the descendants of emigrants living outside Italy could still claim them. Over the years, I have been contacted for help and advice by many descendants of Italian emigrants who want to find their ancestors’ property in Italy. In some cases, people come to me after spending considerable time, and substantial amounts of money. Read more