Procura. Applying A Power of Attorney in Italy

Unable to travel to Italy? Do you need to set up a procura?

Do you need to deal with Italian legal matters but you cannot travel to Italy in person? The solution may be to confer a Power of Attorney. This is known as a procura in Italian.

How does an Italian procura work?

A Power of Attorney (PoA) is a legal instrument. It allows someone (an agent or attorney) to act on behalf of someone else (the principal). A procura specifies exactly what powers a principal gives to an agent.

Generally speaking, if you use a PoA for an Italian property transaction, it is not advisable to grant a PoA to a real estate agent.  This is to avoid any conflicts of interest. As estate agents work on a commission basis, they may have a vested interest in making the sale.

What are the different types of procura in Italy?

There are two types of PoA in Italy.

Procura speciale

The principal gives limited powers to an appointed agent. The agent can only conduct specified tasks on behalf of the principal. For example, for an Italian property purchase, if you cannot be in Italy to complete the sale, you can grant this power to your appointed agent who can then sign the deed of sale on your behalf.

Procura generale

The principal grants a wide range of powers to their agent. In effect, the agent can do almost anything the principal could do.

The principal can revoke either type of PoA at any time.

Does Italy recognise foreign Powers of Attorney?

If you draw up a PoA in your home country, you will need to take steps to get it recognised overseas. To do this, your PoA will require an apostille.

Apostilles certify official documents for international use. Apostilles are valid in all jurisdictions that are signatories to the provisions of the Hague Convention (1961) on the mutual recognition of documents.

Italy, the UK, the USA and Australia are all signatories to the Hague Convention. In the UK, you can obtain apostille services through the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office. The U.S Department of State is responsible for apostilles in the U.S.A and in Australia you should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Finally …

A PoA is a sensitive legal matter. You are entrusting the management of some or all of your legal and financial affairs to someone else.

You should only appoint someone you are confident will act responsibly in your interests, has the necessary skills and is competent, reliable and willing to act for you. We therefore recommend that you confer your Power of Attorney on a professional such as a solicitor.

While you are waiting for formalisation of an apostille, we are able to check the validity of signatures. We can provide a provisional confirmation that these appear genuine.

Before you prepare a PoA applicable in Italy, it is worthwhile seeking legal advice from a cross border legal specialist. If you would like to discuss your situation, please get in touch with us at info@detulliolawfirm.com

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What Is An Apostille?

How can you ensure official documents are recognised abroad?

What Is An Apostille?

If a document is intended for use in another country, you may require a formal recognition in the form of an apostille. The procedure is generally described as a “legalisation” although it is sometimes referred to as “consularisation”. In order to use an official document overseas, you may therefore require an apostille. What exactly does this mean?

In this article, we are going to explain apostilles and how you can go about getting them.

What is an apostille?

Firstly, an apostille is a stamp that is placed on a document by a designated competent authority. The stamp should read, “Apostille” and confirms that an official source has issued your document and that the receiving country can accept the document as authentic.

Secondly, the Hague Convention (1961) governs mutual recognition of documents between signatories. Therefore, apostilles are valid in countries that have adopted provisions of the convention.

The information in an apostille follows a prescribed format

1. Country of issue

2. Who has signed the document

3. The capacity in which the person signed the document

4. Details of any seal on the document

5. Place of issue

6. Date of issue

7. Issuing authority

8. Apostille Certificate number

9. Stamp of issuing authority

10. Signature of representative of issuing authority

What type of documents require an apostille for use abroad?

All apostilles are similar. However, not all documents are processed in the same way. There is a wide variety of documents that may require an apostille. It is therefore important to prepare properly and submit the correct version for authentication with an apostille.

For example, you may require apostilles for documents of an administrative nature such as, birth, marriage and death certificates or a grant of probate or a power of attorney.

If you are, for instance, doing business overseas, you may require an apostille for official documents. These might include extracts from commercial registers or other registers; patents; notarial acts such as property titles; notarial attestations of signatures. If on the other hand, you want to study abroad, you may need an apostille for school, university and other academic diplomas.

Where can you obtain an apostille?

This depends where your document originated so check that and then apply for an apostille in the issuing country.

Signatories to the Hague Convention designate who can deliver apostilles. For example, in the UK, the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office provides apostille services. In the USA, the U.S Department of State is responsible. In Australia you should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The authorities in the receiving country may require a translation. In this case, you will need to get the translation of your document certified rather than the original document. Depending on requirements and the type of document, you may need a translation by a sworn translator.

As the subject of apostilles can be somewhat complex, the Hague website has published a useful brochure, which includes a FAQ: The ABCs of Apostille

Finally …

If you need support with apostilles, please get in touch with us. While you are waiting for formalisation of an apostille, we are able to check the validity of signatures. We can provide a provisional confirmation that these appear genuine.

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.

 

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Italian Law of Filiation: A Family Law Case Study

Italian law of filiation: the legal rights of children born in and out of wedlock

Italian Law of Filiation: A Family Law Case StudyDe Tullio Law Firm provided legal expertise regarding the Italian law of filiation at the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

The parties involved in the case about paternity and inheritance rights emigrated to Australia from Italy in the 1960s. Before ruling on the case, the court needed to understand the Italian law of filiation.

Case Background

In this case study, although we have disguised names and circumstances, we outline the main aspects of the Italian law of filiation that The Supreme Court of Western Australia took into consideration when assessing whether or not Giovanna Rossi, the plaintiff, was a legitimate child of the late Giuseppe Rossi and was therefore entitled to claim a share of her father’s inheritance.

The plaintiff

The plaintiff, Giovanna, issued proceedings in the Supreme Court of Western Australia regarding inheritance of her father’s estate. Following his divorce from Giovanna’s mother, Mr. Rossi re-married and had other children.

Giovanna was born in 1950. Her father and mother were not married at the time. They did however get married a couple of years after Giovanna’s birth.

In Italy, at the time of Giovanna’s birth, it was illegal for fathers to recognise any children born out of wedlock. Giovanna’s birth certificate therefore gives her mother’s maiden name, Bianchi.

However, Giovanna’s birth certificate contains a note stipulating that Giovanna is the legitimate daughter of Mr. Giuseppe Rossi. The birth certificate annotation follows the marriage of Mr. Giuseppe Rossi and Ms. Sofia Bianchi in 1953.

The defendants

The defendants in this case are Giovanna’s half-siblings. They are the children from Mr. Giuseppe Rossi’s second marriage. The defendants dispute Giovanna’s legal rights as an heir and beneficiary to Mr. Rossi’s estate because Giovanna was an “illegitimate” child. They maintain that the subsequent marriage between Mr. Rossi and Ms. Bianchi did not automatically give Giovanna the status of a legitimate child.

What rights does the Italian law of filiation provide?

Firstly, the Italian law of filiation has abolished the old distinction between children born in and out of wedlock.

Constitutional law has driven important changes to legislation regarding filiation with the aim of guaranteeing equality. The consequence of this legislative process has been to stipulate a single status for all children.

Reform of Italian filiation law

Filiation law reform, Riforma della filiazione, modified the Italian Civil Code – in particular, Italian Law no. 219 of 10 December 2012.  This law states that illegitimate children – since reforms in 1975 to Italian family law, known as, “natural children” – must not be subject to any discrimination because of the circumstances of their birth.

All children are equal in the eyes of the Italian law

Both legitimate and natural children therefore have the same status: figlio. All children have equal rights and parents have a responsibility toward their offspring. A child has the right to receive care, education, assistance in case of need and a share of any inheritance.

In other words, the Italian Civil Code, as well as other Italian legislation referring to the relationships between parent and child, only permits the use of the word “child” (figlio/figlia). There is no longer any distinction such as, il/legitimate, natural or adopted.

The provision of a uniform status of filiation means that all children have the same rights to receive care, education, assistance in case of need and a share of any inheritance and parents are responsible for providing these rights. In addition, the express intention of Law 219 of 2012 extends parental responsibilities to parents’ relatives.

2012 filiation reforms are retroactive

The Filiation Reform (Law 201/2012) is applicable to all people, not only those born after a certain date. This means that the abolition of the distinction between legitimate and natural/illegitimate children is retroactive. In other words, it is applicable to parent-child relationships prior to the Law 219/2012 entering into force on 1st January 2013.

A major effect of the abolition of the distinction between natural children and legitimate children is that natural children have gained an equal right to succeed to their parents. They are entitled not only to inherit a share of their “natural” parents’ estate but also to inherit from other relatives of their parents.

How was Italian law different before reforms?

Prior to reforms, there was a huge difference between the status of legitimate and illegitimate children in Italy. Illegitimate children had none of the legal rights afforded to legitimate children.

When Giovanna was born in the 1950s, there were only two ways to legitimate children born out of wedlock and give them the status of figlio. Either the parents could marry after the birth or, the father could make a formal  statement to a notary, declaring that he was the father of the child.

Legittimato quale figlio

Giovanna’s birth certificate contains the phrase “legittimata quale figlia”. This means that following the marriage of her natural parents, Giovanna acquired the status of child. She went from the condition of being illegitimate to a condition where she was recognised as having the status of a legitimate child with all the accompanying rights of being a child.

This was in accordance with applicable Civil Code and legislation in force at that time. Also, as previously mentioned, following reforms to the Italian law of filiation, there is no longer any distinction in Italy between children born in or out of wedlock.

Case outcome

According to the Italian Law, Giovanna Rossi does have the status of a legitimate child of Mr. Giuseppe Rossi, both under current applicable Italian law, as well as under legislation applicable at the time of Mr. Rossi’s marriage to Ms. Bianchi.

The event of a marriage between her natural parents gave Giovanna the status of child and, legitimated her as a child of Giuseppe Rossi and Sofia Bianchi in accordance with legislation in force since February 1955.

The Italian Family Law reform of 2012 abolished any distinction between legitimate children and natural/illegitimate children.

The Supreme Court of Western Australia therefore judged that Giovanna was indeed the late Mr. Rossi’s legitimate child and, as such, was entitled to receive a portion of his estate as her inheritance.

Finally …

At De Tullio Law Firm we provide legal advice and support in all fields of Italian law. Our particular specialties are Italian and cross border property, inheritance and family matters. If we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

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You may also like to watch our info videos on the subject of Italian inheritance law.

How To Protect An Italian Inheritance from Divorce

How to protect an inheritance from divorce and/or separation

How to protect inheritance from divorce

Separation and divorce are two of the most painful events in life. The decision to legally end a relationship can set off a long and difficult process. The upheavals and emotional challenges can be enormous. On top of this, complex legal and financial issues with short and long term implications need careful management. One aspect to consider when deciding to separate and/or divorce is how to protect an Italian inheritance.

An Italian inheritance might comprise property, movable and immovable assets and savings. Italian inheritance law specifically guarantees inheritance to so-called, “forced heirs”.

A consultation with a lawyer can provide an idea of the likely legal and financial outcomes of your situation. Generally, lawyers will provide a free initial consultation for this purpose. It is therefore worth seeking professional advice at an early stage.

While separation and divorce is a family crisis, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of how to protect an Italian inheritance in order to safeguard and guarantee children’s rights.

Indeed, children have the right to support from both their parents. Italian Constitution and Article 147 of the Italian Civil Code states that children have this right until they reach the age of 18.

Matrimonial regimes

In May 2015, Italy introduced the so-called, ‘quickie divorce law’. This cut the amount of time it can take to get a divorce from three years to as little as six months.

There can be important consequences on estate-related issues in divorce and/or separation. These can vary according to the matrimonial financial regime the couple chose at the time of, or during, their marriage.

Couples in Italy may choose between a matrimonial regime of either community of assets, comunione dei beni, or separation of assets, separazione dei beni.

If couples do not have a notarised deed stipulating they have chosen a separazione dei beni regime, Italian law takes the view that the matrimonial regime in place is the default comunione dei beni matrimonial regime.

Expat couples married elsewhere but resident in Italy are regarded as being married according to the comunione dei beni regime. This means a couple jointly owns all assets they acquire during their marriage. In the event of a divorce, each spouse will therefore receive an equal share of these assets.

However, there are exceptions. For instance, if a partner acquired a property prior to the marriage, or received a property after the marriage as a gift or an inheritance, this would not necessarily be split equally in the case of a divorce. It is therefore important to understand your matrimonial regime and check property deeds to see who actually owns what.

Finally …

Division of Italian assets between spouses in the event of divorce or separation depends on matrimonial regimes. It is important to understand if you own the property in common with your spouse. If you need assistance or would like to discuss your personal situation. please get in touch with us.

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Italian Inheritance Tax

Do beneficiaries need to pay tax on Italian inheritance?

This is a question we are often asked at De Tullio Law Firm. The answer is yes. Beneficiaries need to pay Italian inheritance tax.

Who calculates Italian inheritance tax?

Italian inheritance tax

When you become the beneficiary of an inheritance you may have to submit a statement of succession, “Dichiarazione di successione”  to the Italian tax authorities, “Agenzia delle Entrate”.

Firstly a succession procedure needs to be opened. Once this has happened, you can file the statement of succession. Although it is not always the case, the opening of a succession procedure usually coincides with a testator’s death. Your filing with the tax authorities should take place within 12 months of the succession procedure opening.

Once they receive the statement of succession, the tax authorities will calculate the amount of tax due on your inheritance.

It is worth noting however, that there is no obligation to file a statement of succession if the estate does not comprise any real estate. Likewise, if assets are valued at less than Euro 100,000 and the beneficiaries are a spouse, children and/or other direct heirs.

What is taxable?

In effect, Italian inheritance tax applies to the entire net value of the deceased’s estate. This therefore includes both movable and immovable assets.

Immovable assets include houses, shops, buildings, agricultural or building land.

Movable assets could for example include, boats, jewellery, works of art, bank and post office current accounts, money, investments such as shares, bonds, trust funds.

In addition, companies and shareholdings in companies are taxable. However, there are exceptions to this which would exempt heirs from inheritance tax.

How is Italian inheritance tax calculated?

Basic inheritance tax in Italy, “Imposta sulle Successioni” equates to 8% of the estate.

However, rates depend on the relationship of the beneficiary to the deceased.

The Italian inheritance tax rate drops to 6% between siblings, relatives up to the fourth degree cousins and relatives up to the third degree. This might for instance, be a spouse’s uncle. In the case of direct heirs such as the deceased’s children, spouse or registered partner, the applicable tax rate is 4%.

Summary of Italian inheritance tax rates

Heir Rate (Aliquota) Exemption up to
Spouse, relatives in the direct line of descent  (parents, grandparents, children, children’s children…) 4% 1.000.000 euro
Brothers and sisters 6% 100.000 euro
Other relatives up to grade 4, related in the direct line of descent, related in a collateral line up to grade 3 6% No exemption
Other subjects 8% No exemption

Finally …

Because Italian inheritance can be a complex matter and each case is different, we recommend that you seek expert support and advice.

If you wish to discuss your case with us or you are feeling unsure about anything related to Italian inheritance, do not hesitate to contact us for a free preliminary consultation.

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De Tullio Law Firm. Italian And Cross Border Legal Specialists.

De Tullio Law Firm. Solid, strong, stable legal expertise

At De Tullio Law Firm we provide independent legal advice in all areas of the law. The majority of our work focuses on managing a wide range of Italian and cross border legal matters. We are specialists in property, family and inheritance law.

A passion for the law led us here

De Tullio Law Firm: Combined experience of 55 years

Giovanni De Tullio. Founding Partner at De Tullio Law Firm.

Giovanni De Tullio founded De Tullio Law Firm in 1965. In addition to being a lawyer, Giovanni was a notary (notaio) for over 30 years. As a result, Giovanni brings tremendous experience and knowledge of Italian legislation to the team. Whether clients are purchasing or selling a home, gifting a home to a child, making a will or incorporating a company in Italy, Giovanni’s understanding of the Italian State’s requirements is an invaluable resource.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Giandomenico De Tullio also became a lawyer.

Giandomenico De Tullio. Managing Partner.

After a decade working overseas at international legal firms, as well as at the European Commission, Giandomenico joined Giovanni at De Tullio Law Firm.

Aside from being a member of The Italian Bar Association, Giandomenico is also a full member of Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners. STEP is the world’s leading professional body for practitioners in the fields of trusts, estates and related issues.

Giandomenico is also an active representative in a number of not-for-profit government organisations whose aim is to develop and promote economic and cultural relations.

Right beside you

Because we have over 55 years of experience providing independent legal advice, we understand that property investments, or planning inheritance is not just a complex legal journey but also a personal one.

Our knowledge of Italian and cross border property, family and inheritance law gives us unique insights into the processes involved. We pride ourselves on giving each of our clients the individual care that their case deserves.

Thanks to the dedication of our lawyers, associates and professional staff, we offer an extraordinarily high level of service, responsiveness and attention to detail.

De Tullio Law Firm. Serving clients worldwide

Clients include both individuals and companies seeking legal advice, support and services. Our multi-lingual team serves clients throughout Italy.

Finally …

Thank you for visiting our website. We hope you find the information useful. If there is anything you would like us to cover in an article or, if you would like to discuss a legal matter with us, please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

International Succession

Foreign nationals with a second home in Italy are subject to international succession procedures

International succession pertains to the estate of a person who dies in a country other than that of their nationality or residence.

It is likewise applicable to someone who leaves movable or immovable assets in a country other than that of their citizenship or residence. If, for example, you are a foreign national who owns a second home in Italy, your estate will be subject to international succession procedures.

In August 2015 new EU regulations governing inheritance came into force. These regulations, known as Brussels IV, aim to simplify and accelerate international inheritance matters and make cross-border succession procedures more efficient. Prior to the introduction of Brussels IV, international succession laws differed from country to country.

Since its introduction, there have now been a number of cases regarding the interpretation of the new EU regulations. One such international succession case came to court in Salerno in 2018.

The case involves two brothers who co-owned three properties in Italy. In 2016 one of the brothers, an Italian citizen, died in New York where he was a resident. He died intestate meaning he didn’t leave a Will.

One of the decedent’s six brothers is a co-owner of the three Italian properties. He took legal action to wind up the Italian property co-ownership. He subsequently filed an inheritance claim for his brother’s share in the property.

Article 24 paragraph 1 of EU Regulation 1215/2012 (so-called “Brussels I bis”) governs dissolutions of co-ownerships. It entrusts such cases to the court of the country in which the property is located. In this case therefore, Italy.

For international succession, to make life simpler for those you leave behind, it is crucial to have a Will

For estate divisions, the court in Salerno applied the Brussels IV regulation.

Article 4 of the regulation establishes that the jurisdiction which rules on the succession as a whole, is that of the country where the deceased was habitually resident at the time of death. However, Article 10 provides for subsidiary jurisdiction of courts in which the estate is located – if the deceased was a national of that country at the time of death.

Returning to the case in question. The court of Salerno considered that the deceased was habitually resident in the State of New York. It therefore ruled that the case should be governed by the law of New York State.

Adding to the complexity of this case, rules of private international law are also relevant. The rules governing New York private international law provide that the law of the place where the property is located applies to successions concerning immovable assets.

The judge has adjourned the case until parties produce U.S. regulatory sources. This is something of a landmark case. It sets a precedent inasmuch that judges have the power and duty to ascertain foreign regulatory sources of their own volition.

Although Regulation 650/12 aspires to harmonise international succession, in terms of effectiveness it is confusing and open to interpretation.

For international succession and division of estates, Italian inheritance law specifically provides for rights to so-called, “forced heirs”. Their inheritance quota is guaranteed.

However, in countries with common law systems, such as the UK and the USA, testators can rule on how estates should be divided.

Brussels IV allows testators to make a choice of law in their Will

International Succession Planning

Article 22 of Brussels IV allows individuals resident overseas to elect which country law should govern their inheritance.

Where individuals have multiple nationalities, they may elect to have any one of their nationalities apply to their Italian assets.

In effect, this means that you can avoid any jurisdictional confusion after your death. However, you need to take action by making, “Choice of Law Codicil” in your Will.

Finally …

If you are in the process of drafting, or reviewing, your Will, you should consider aspects such as foreign matrimonial regimes, usufruct, tax consequences, joint ownership structures and other foreign proprietary rights before deciding which law to apply to the devolution of your estate.

Should you need further information concerning the topic, our legal professionals will be happy to discuss your situation. Please contact De Tullio Law Firm at the following email address: info@detulliolawfirm.com

 

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Inheritance Law And Tax in Italy

Italian Inheritance law can be labyrinthine

At an extremely difficult time, those left behind find they need to navigate their way through a maze of bureaucratic procedures, red tape and paperwork. It is easy to get lost in Italian inheritance law without help.

The Italian succession process involves a series of steps that allow legitimate heirs to obtain possession of a decedent’s movable and immovable assets and bank accounts.

Firstly, heirs will need to gather all the required documentation (death certificate, residence certificate, will, bank statements and others). In order to proceed, having all the paperwork together is crucial.

Inheritance Law And Tax in ItalyDeclaration of succession

Secondly, heirs will need to prepare a declaration of succession. This comprises all the assets in the deceased’s estate. Heirs must submit their declaration of succession to the Italian tax authorities.

Italian Civil Code regulates succession. It consists of transferring assets, bank accounts and properties to heirs, who are also responsible for managing any liabilities, debts and back taxes.

The Italian tax authorities should receive the declaration of succession within one year from the deceased’s date of death. Where the value of an estate is below €100.000 and does not comprise property, a declaration is not necessary.

Italian inheritance law. What is taxable?

The third step is paying inheritance tax. In accordance with 2019 inheritance tax law, heirs who inherit Italian assets are liable for tax based on the assets in their declaration of succession.

Italian inheritance law stipulates that the following assets are liable for tax:

Immovable property (houses, shops, buildings), agricultural or building land.

Movable property, including boats, jewellery, works of art, bank and post office current accounts, money, investments such as shares, bonds, trust funds, etc.

Companies and shareholdings, with the exception of cases provided for by law which exempt heirs from the inheritance tax.

How is Italian inheritance tax calculated?

Once the Italian tax authorities receive a declaration of succession, they calculate applicable estate tax. The calculation considers any deductibles (franchigie). That is to say, the calaculation takes into account any thresholds for exemption from applicable tax[1].

The law governing taxation of inheritances and gifts is the “Consolidated Tax Registration Law” (Legislative Decree No. 346 of October 31, 1990).

For tax purposes, three bands have been created, based on the degree of kinship, for each of which a different rate of tax is applicable. Tax rates are determined on the overall value of the assets and rights – net of any charges borne by the beneficiary[2].

Band 1 inheritance law tax:

Spouse, registered partner and relatives in a direct line (parents and children, children and parents, grandparents and grandchildren)

Tax: 4% with an excess of €1,000,000 for each beneficiary

Band 2 inheritance law tax:

Other relatives up to the fourth degree (brothers and sisters, uncles and nephews, cousins).

Tax: 6% with a franchise of €100,000 for each beneficiary;

Band 3 inheritance law tax:

Others (relatives beyond the fourth degree and unrelated people such as friends).

Tax: 8% without any deductibles.

Finally …

As you can see, Italian Inheritance law and tax is complex. In addition, it may differ from case to case. Because of this, it is worth seeking expert support. For a more comprehensive clarification of Italian inheritance law and tax, you might find our free guide useful.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of experience managing Italian inheritance matters. If you are feeling unsure about anything to do with inheritance law and tax and need advice, please get in touch with us. We are here to help.

______________________

[1] The Italian Revenue Agency automatically applies the presumption of 10%. This assumes that the value of your inheritance is higher by at least 10%, since an inheritance would generally include items such as jewellery and movable assets not expressly declared. To avoid the presumption of 10%, attach a detailed inventory of assets to the declaration of succession.

[2] In addition to the above, even where no inheritance tax is due, Italian government fees to transfer Italian real estate holdings apply. Your inheritance will therefore be subject to mortgage and cadastral taxes in addition to inheritance tax, where applicable. These taxes are based on the value of property included in your inheritance. Tax is the same as you would pay for example, in case of a sale of property.

Mortgage Tax: 2% of real estate property value as set by cadastral records, not the appraised value, for a minimum of €200.

Cadastral Tax: 1% of real estate property value as set by cadastral records, not the appraised value, for a minimum of €200.

 

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Benefit of Inventory. Accepting An Italian Inheritance

How to protect your personal assets from debts associated with an Italian inheritance

Benefit of Inventory. Accepting An Italian InheritanceIn this article we explore what acceptance of an Italian inheritance under the benefit of inventory entails.

De Tullio Law Firm, we understand that when a loved one dies there are many issues that need attention at an extremely difficult time. Having to make funeral arrangements, notifying friends and family and the grieving process.

On top of this, there are also critical legal matters that require consideration.

If your loved one left assets not only at home but also in Italy, estate administration is more complex. As cross border legal specialists in Italy, this is an area in which our legal team can help. Should you wish to discuss your situation with us, please get in touch.

Italian estate inheritance options available to heirs

Inheritance consists of assets (moveable and immovable property) and liabilities (debts).

Italian law stipulates that an heir becomes responsible for settling any debts the decedent may have left.

The acceptance of an inheritance sometimes presents a risk. If the value of assets included in the inheritance is less than liabilities, heirs are responsible for settling debts from their personal finances.

In Italy, inheritance always requires acceptance or refusal. Italian law provides three inheritance options in this regard.

Unconditional acceptance of the inheritance

An heir inherits all the assets subject to succession. The beneficiary assumes personal liability for the decedent’s liabilities, even if debts exceed the value of the assets. An heir therefore becomes liable in a personal capacity (with their own finances) for any portion of the decedent’s debts that the inheritance does not cover.

Refusal of the inheritance

This means an heir completely renounces the succession. In effect, an heir renounces all rights to the inheritance. The statutory arrangement is that the share of inheritance is then subject to a ‘right of representation’. Thus it passes to an heir’s children, and if there are no children, to any other heirs.

Acceptance under the benefit of inventory (accettazione con beneficio di inventario)

This is usually the best option if you are uncertain whether the inheritance comprises debts and other succession charges.

What is the acceptance of inheritance under benefit of inventory?

According to Article 490 of the Italian Civil Code, acceptance under the benefit of inventory is an act by which a person declares the acceptance of inheritance but wants to protect personal assets from becoming entwined with those of the deceased.

Usually, the assets of the heir and that of the deceased are merged into one, so not only does the heir inherit movable and immovable assets, but also any debts and liabilities.

Whoever accepts an inheritance must settle debts, so caution is advised. In order to protect an heir’s personal assets, the acceptance of the succession is subject to a condition, the benefit of inventory. This permits the heir to assess what the inheritance actually comprises before deciding whether or not to accept it.

There is no obligation for an heir to accept the inheritance. Drawing up an inventory of debts and assets allows the heir to make an informed decision about the inheritance: either to accept and pay debts from the assets inherited, or to refuse the inheritance because debts outweigh inherited assets.

Effects of acceptance under benefit of inventory

The first advantage is that the estate of the deceased remains distinct from the estate of the heir. In essence, this means that an heir does not have pay the decedent’s debts for a value greater than that of the inherited assets. In addition, creditors cannot recoup any debts from the heir’s personal assets.

How to accept the inheritance under the benefit of inventory

To accept an inheritance using the benefit of inventory, there are some fundamental requirements. Article 490 of the Italian Civil Code covers the procedure.

Firstly an heir has to file a declaration written in Italian, with a notary or a clerk of court in the locality where the succession procedure is taking place. Secondly, a detailed inventory of all the assets belonging to the inheritance is necessary.

Within a month of filing the above mentioned declaration, the notary or clerk must transcribe it in the relevant land registries. This transcription then permits the heir to pay the creditors and the bequests.

Finally …

If you are in the difficult situation of considering whether to refuse or accept an Italian inheritance, using the option of benefit of inventory may be the way forward for you.

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Title deed in Italy. Change of Names.

Registering names on a title deed in Italy

Title deed in Italy. Change of Names.The final step of the Italian conveyancing process is signing of the deed of sale. In effect, the title deed in Italy transfers ownership of real estate into someone’s name.

This legal procedure demands the presence of a notary public, the real estate vendor(s) and buyer(s) and two witnesses.

The notary reads aloud the entire deed, which is written in Italian. All parties, including the witnesses and the notary public, then approve and sign the title deed.

If one of the parties to the transaction is not fluent in the Italian language, Italian law requires the presence of a qualified professional to translate and interpret the title deed. This could be a translator or a bilingual property lawyer. This legal requirement aims to ensure that all parties fully understand the content and ramifications of the deed. The professional acting as translator must also sign the title deed.

Once the notary has signed-off on the deed, the buyer acquires ownership of the real estate.

Subsequently, the notary is responsible for certain formalities. Because notaries work for the Italian State, registering the deed with the tax authorities is the first step. Next the notary lodges the deed in the Public Registers. This allows any third parties who may have an interest to know about the change of ownership. Lastly, the notary informs the land registry so they can update their records accordingly.

How do you change the name on an Italian property / title deed?

There are many reasons why you may need to change the name on a title deed in Italy. Divorce and death are the most common reasons.

In order to change the name on a title deed, you will require a new notarial deed.

For example, if you acquired a property with a spouse and following a divorce you need to remove one of the names from a real property title deed, you will need a new notarial deed.

Where the divorce decree is from an Italian Court, the transfer of ownership will not involve payment of any real estate transfer tax.

If on the other hand, the divorce decree is issued by a non-Italian Court, you will have to pay real estate transfer tax.

The terms of the new title deed determine applicable tax rates. It will depend whether the real property changed hands without any payment or if there was a financial transaction involved. In the latter case, you will need a new deed of sale.

How do you find out whose name is on a title deed in Italy?

In order to find out whose name appears on a title deed, you will need to conduct mortgage and cadastral searches.

Finally …

For more information and clarification or, if you need to change a name on a title deed or ascertain whose name is on a real property title deed, feel free to get in touch with us. We are here to help.

You may also like to read: Translating legal documents in Property Transactions