Italian Law of Filiation: A Family Law Case Study

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

Maria Clelia Taló. The judge fully accepted Maria Clelia’s evidence in an Australian inheritance case.

Maria Clelia Taló, senior associate and legal advisor at De Tullio Law Firm was an expert witness 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.

You may also be interested in Partition of Property among Family Members

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?

Do beneficiaries have to pay taxes on inheritance?

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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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.

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

 

You may also be interested in Applying A Power of Attorney in Italy

Legitimate Heirs. Rights of “Forced Heirs” in Italian Inheritance

Italian law provides for legitimate heirs

legitimate heirs in Italian inheritanceAlthough a testator may have expressed wishes in a Will, certain people have a legal right to receive at least a portion of an Italian inheritance. These are all so-called, “legitimate heirs”, or “forced heirs”.

The testator only has one portion of assets to dispose of freely, which varies between a quarter and a half of total assets. This is defined as the, “available quota”.

The remainder of an Italian inheritance is legally designated. This portion goes to a testator’s spouse (or registered partner), children and, in the absence of children, if they are still alive, the testator’s parents.

Legitimate Heirs: what are inheritance quota rights?

If there is only one child, s/he is due at least half of the decedent’s total assets. This becomes a third of assets if the decedent’s spouse or registered partner is still alive. A child would therefore be entitled to inherit a third of the assets.

In the case where there are two or more children, they divide two thirds of the inheritance between them. A surviving spouse or registered partner is entitled to a quarter of the assets, children’s quota decreases to half of the assets. If one or more children pre-decease the testator or renounce an inheritance, their descendants qualify to receive that entitlement.

Where the decedent and surviving spouse or registered partner have no children, the surviving partner is entitled to at least half of the assets.

Parents and other ascendants of the deceased only become legitimate heirs in the absence of descendants. Parents have the right to a third of the inheritance, reduced to a quarter if the decedent’s spouse or registered partner is still alive. The latter is legally entitled to half of the assets.

Regarding property pre-owned by the deceased or owned in common by the spouses or registered partners. The surviving spouse or registered partner has the right to (i) remain in the family house and, (ii) retain all movable assets in the property. In this case, if there are any other co-heirs, there is no requirement to pay property tax on their portion of inheritance. Tax liabilities remain with the spouse or registered partner, even if s/he renounces the inheritance. 

What about the inheritance rights of separated couples?

In cases of a legal separation, the spouse or registered partner loses inheritance rights if a court judgement finds s/he was to blame for the breakdown of the marriage or registered partnership.

Surviving spouses or registered partners who have no court judgement regarding their separation are not legally separated. They therefore have the same inheritance rights as a non-separated spouses and partners. This would also be the case where no assignment of responsibility for the breakdown of the marriage or registered partnership exists.

In other words, the loss of the right to an inheritance relates only to court-issued judgements of separation. The law, in accordance with article 151 of Italian Civil Code, deems a couple to still be in the marriage or registered partnership if their separation was a personal decision and did not go through the courts.

Legitimate heirs and reserved quotas in Italy

Legitimate heirs Reversed quotas and availability
Spouse (or registered partnership) (in the absence of children and parents) 1/2 to the spouse (or registered partner) = 1/2 available quota
One child (in the absence of a spouse or registered partnership) 1/2 to the child = 1/2 available quota
Two or more children (in the absence of a spouse or registered partnership)  2/3 to children (divided into equal parts) = 1/3 available quota
Spouse (or registered partnership) and only one child 1/3 to the spouse (or registered partnership) 1/3 to the child = 1/3 available quota
Spouse (or registered partnership) and two or more children 1/4 to the spouse (or registered partnership)  1/2 to children (divided in equal parts) = 1/4 available quota
Spouse (or registered partnership) and parents (in the absence of children)  1/2 to the spouse (or registered partnership)  1/4 to parents (divided into equal parts) = 1/4 available quota
Parents (in the absence of children and spouse or registered partnership)  1/3 (divided into equal parts) = 2/3 available quota
If there is a Will, the law reserves a quota of inheritance only for the spouse (or registered partner) and children (if the deceased had no children there is a reserved quota for parents who are still living), so if the Will is valid, other relatives cannot make claims.  

 

Finally …

Italian 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 Italian succession and inheritance, 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 throughout Italy. We are a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.

 

Buying A Property in Italy. Insider Tips from Our Clients

In a recent survey, we asked clients what top tips they would offer to others buying a property in Italy. What would they recommend in order to ensure that Italian property purchases run smoothly? Here is a selection of replies, which we hope might be helpful if you are planning to buy real estate in Italy.

“Notaries and solicitors are not the same. The former works for the Italian State. The latter works for you …Tips for Buying A Property in Italy

Once the vendor has accepted your offer, it’s crucial to have the right people on your side.

We thought that because under Italian law you have to use a public notary, a ‘notaio’, we were protected from a legal point of view. However, we learnt that an Italian notary is not at all the same as having a solicitor. While a notary handles the conveyancing, they can’t give you any legal advice. In fact, Notaries are government employees. They are responsible for collecting all the relevant taxes you pay at completion.

In Italy, the vendor and buyer often share a ‘notaio’ but I’d advise you to appoint your own. Despite what anyone tells you, I’d recommend you consult a solicitor to advise you on matters such as price negotiations, checks and searches on the property, inheritance and how to structure your purchase and tax issues.

Choose the solicitor yourself, not someone the vendor or estate agent recommends. And, make sure the solicitor speaks your language and has experience of dealing with Italian property purchases and all the associated legal, estate planning and tax aspects”.

“It’s not just about buying a property in Italy. Don’t ignore inheritance planning!

Under Italian law you have to leave a portion of your estate to your children (or your parents if you have no children), you can’t just leave all your property to whoever you want, whether that is your spouse or the local dog rescue centre.

Of course, there are ways around this, but they have legal and tax implications so it is important to seek professional advice if for any reason you don’t want to leave your Italian home to what are known as, “forced heirs”.

There are several ways to structure property transactions in Italy, which is great. However, you can’t change the ownership structure later on, so it’s important to consider the options before you buy. There are also inheritance tax implications so, again, getting professional advice before you sign anything is crucial”.

“You have to be smart with your cash.

Firstly, make sure you get your offer right. It’s surprising how many people who have an accurate idea of prices where they live will make an offer in Italy based on what they feel is right rather than market knowledge. It’s easy to research prices across Italy online on various property portals and agency websites. Your estate agent can advise you too. They also have a good idea of the price the vendor would be willing to accept.

We wanted complete peace of mind and preferred to have someone working purely on our behalf, so we asked De Tullio Law Firm to help us and they did an excellent job. They advised us all the way through our Italian real estate buying experience. They saved us a great deal of money negotiating a price for the property and sound legal advice. In addition, they helped put us in touch with foreign exchange specialists and helped us look in to taking out an Italian mortgage. We decided not to go down that route in the end but, it would have been an option”.

“Make sure your estate agent is qualified.

Italy has a well-regulated estate agency system. Buying a property in Italy is therefore pretty safe. Plus, it is easy to make sure your agent is one of the good guys. Check that your estate agent has professional insurance and is registered with their local chamber of commerce. Still, it’s a huge thing to sign legal documents if like us, your Italian is not great.

From personal experience, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer look over paperwork before you sign anything. Take care who you give your money to. Never give it directly to the seller – only to the notaio or to your estate agent so long as they are insured to take such payments. And never be tempted to pay ‘under the table’ to avoid taxes on the purchase by declaring a lower sale price. Even if you get away with it at the time, you will have to pay higher capital gains taxes when you come to sell as the difference between the price you paid (or declared you’d paid) and the price you sell at will be higher”.

“Although surveys are not common in Italy, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to have one.

We’re glad we had a survey done. When we were buying a property in Italy, our surveyor found quite a few structural issues and planning permission issues. Things that we couldn’t see just from viewing the property. We were able to use the issues to negotiate on the price of our house.

Make sure you choose an independent surveyor. Someone who understands the peculiarities of Italian buildings. Get a complete survey covering structural, zoning, building permits, termites, lead paint, asbestos, natural and industrial risks, gas/electrical/water installations, septic tanks and energy efficiency ratings. Because we were planning to renovate our property, we also asked a builder to look over the property”.

“Renovations can be a great opportunity, but they can turn in to a money pit.

If you are looking for a renovation project in Italy, it is important to understand the likely costs and timescales involved, to avoid them spiralling out of control. Get at least a couple of quotes from builders before you sign for the property, and make a realistic plan for how you will proceed – will you use an architect and, or geometra, a project manager, Italian builders and artisans, or do the work yourself?

Planning permission is also key; get your lawyer to insert a condition into the preliminary sales contract (compromesso) stating that the purchase is subject to planning consents. We have renovated a couple of buildings in Italy, but wouldn’t have undertaken the projects without seeking legal advice beforehand”.

“Choose a reputable developer if you decide to buy an off-plan property in Italy.

Looks great on paper? A chance to design certain elements of your home? That’s what we thought but, buying an off-plan property in Italy is not for the faint-hearted. There have been so many stories of things going very wrong with off-plan real estate.

If you are thinking of buying off-plan, having your own lawyer is a must. Italian law is very complex and Italian legalese is a completely different language. It is crucial to establish that the developer is reputable before you sign any papers or hand over any money – do the developers have a bank guarantee for example? Bear in mind that in Italy developers won’t get funding from a bank until a certain amount of properties have been signed up, so check how far the development has progressed (has planning permission been approved or building work started?).

Never sign anything until you have taken legal advice and never ever hand over all the money at the start of the process, even if a developer is pressuring you. You should only make payments in stages. A final payment is only due once the property is complete.”

“On top of the asking price, you need to budget for additional costs.

This is really important to think about. Notary and estate agent fees can easily add up to 15% of the price of your property. Notary fees include various Italian State taxes like stamp duty as well as their actual fees, set on a sliding scale according to the value of the real estate. Estate agency fees are at the agency’s discretion. If you have a mortgage, don’t forget to account for mortgage fees as well. In addition, think about costs such as solicitor’s fees and surveys. Also think long term about property taxes, maintenance and running costs”.

“Do your homework before buying a property in Italy …

Read specialist magazines, consult websites – take care they are reputable though. Online advice can be a little misleading or even incorrect. Go to Italian property exhibitions and talk to experts there. Make sure you understand what you are taking on – not just the buying process and costs involved, but everything else. How will you get to your property? What are the running costs, including property taxes, utilities bills and service charges if you are buying an apartment?

Italy is a great place in which to buy a property – as long as you take care with your research beforehand and use reputable and registered professionals to help you”.

Finally …

If you are thinking of or in the process of buying a property in Italy and have a question,  please get in touch for a free consultation.

 

You may also be interested in How to get a mortgage in Italy

Italian Estate Tax

Italian estate tax (imposta di successione)

Italian estate taxAlthough the government abolished Italian estate tax in 2001, it subsequently reintroduced it in 2006.

Italian estate tax is therefore applicable to succession cases prior to October 25, 2001 and those from October 3, 2006 onwards.

In order to comply with the fiscal rules of inheritance law, heirs need in the first instance to file a statement of succession with the Italian tax authorities.

Who is liable for Italian estate tax?

If the deceased was resident in Italy at the time of death, Italian Inheritance Tax applies to the deceased’s worldwide assets. However, if the deceased lived outside Italy, Italian estate tax is only payable on assets located in Italy.

Of course, in order to prevent issues with double taxation, Italy has a number of cross border taxation arrangements in place, including with the UK and the USA.

Unity of inheritance

Italian inheritance law is based on the principle of ‘unity of inheritance’. To clarify this, the law of the country of last domicile deals with any movable assets. Movable assets could, for instance be furniture, cars, jewellery, works of art, bank and post office current accounts, money, investments such as shares, bonds, trust and managed funds.

On the other hand, immovable assets are dealt with according to the law of the country wherever they are located. Examples of immovable assets include houses, shops, buildings, agricultural or building land.

How does Italian estate tax work?

While Italian estate tax appears less onerous, in terms of payments, compared to some other EU Member States, it is nevertheless complex.

In effect, Italian estate tax applies to the net value of the deceased’s estate. This therefore, includes not only movable but also immovable assets.

In addition, equity in non-family businesses and shareholdings in companies are taxable. However, there are exceptions to this.

Indeed, because the range of taxable assets is so broad, it is important to review the balance of ownership of your assets in the above mentioned categories. Above all, if you have children or you stand to inherit assets from an Italian estate.

It may moreover, also be worthwhile considering property ownership changes to protect your assets. In addition, some careful estate planning for the transfer of assets within the family is crucial.

Italian estate Tax on property

As far as a property is concerned, it is important to bear in mind the income value of Italian real estate property. This is calculated on the capitalised cadastral annuity.

In order to ascertain the cadastral value of a property, re-evaluation coefficients are as follows.

– Agricultural land: €112,50

– Buildings – Cat. C/1 and E: € 42,84

– Buildings – Cat. A/10 and D: €63,00

– Buildings – Cat. B: €147,00

– Other buildings: €126,00

– Habitable buildings, primary residences and relative appurtenances: €115,50

Depending on the relationship to the deceased and the category of assets, tax is applied proportionally to individual heirs or legatees.

The table below summarises quotas and exemptions from inheritance tax relating to Italian real estate property:

BENEFICIARY INHERITANCE TAX ASSET CATEGORY REGISTRATION TAX CADASTRAL TAX
Spouse and/or Children Value of assets & rights: 4%

Below €1 million value, tax-exempt.

  • Primary Residence
  • Other property
  • Other assets
€200

2%

€ 168

1%

Siblings Value of assets & rights: 6%

Below €1 million value, tax-exempt.

  • Primary Residence
  • Other property
  • Other assets
€200

2%

€ 168

1%

4th Degree Relative Value of assets & rights: 6%
  • Primary Residence
  • Other property
  • Other assets
€200

2%

€ 168

1%

Other Value of assets & rights: 8%

 

  • Primary Residence
  • Other property
  • Other assets
€200

2%

€ 168

1%

Additionally, in accordance with the Italian Disabilities Act, the threshold from which disabled beneficiaries are liable for inheritance tax is €1.5 million.

Furthermore, quotas mentioned in the table above also apply to lifetime use (usufruct) of a property title deed.

What is excluded from Italian inheritance tax?

As previously mentioned, according to Italian inheritance tax law, certain categories of assets are exempt from Italian inheritance tax. These include government bonds and unit linked whole of life insurance policies. Additionally, shareholdings in family businesses and certain charitable donations are exempt.

EU regulations

Choice of law

In addition to Italian inheritance law, it is also worth mentioning EU succession regulations introduced in 2015.  In brief, these regulations provide testators with an opportunity to amend the Italian principle of unity of inheritance.

As a result of EU succession regulations, non-Italians who are resident in Italy can make a choice of law in their will. In other words, a testator can stipulate that they want the law of their own country, or nationality, to govern their Italian-based assets.

Furthermore, EU regulations do not restrict the choice of law to EU nationals resident in Italy. For example, a US national could nominate US law to apply to the succession of their property in Italy.

It should however be mentioned, that nominating a country law needs careful consideration. Given that a testator needs to take in to account matters such as foreign matrimonial regimes, usufruct, tax consequences, joint ownership structures and other foreign proprietary rights with respect to an estate, it would be wise to seek advice before acting.

European Certificate of Succession

In order to facilitate cross border successions, an additional benefit of the EU succession regulations is the European Certificate of Succession. While this document is issued by the relevant authority dealing with the succession, heirs, legatees, executors and administrators of an estate can use it to prove their status and thereby exercise their rights or powers in other EU Member States.

Finally …

As can be seen, Italian inheritance is a complex matter. While there are actions that you can take to mitigate the impact of Italian inheritance tax law on estates, because each case is different, you should seek professional support and advice.

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 estate tax questions or if would like to discuss your situation.

You may also be interested in Inheritance Law and Taxes

Italian Inheritance Law Services

Italian Inheritance law: De Tullio Law Firm's servicesItalian Succession 

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm​ has been providing clients worldwide with clear-sighted Italian inheritance law services.

Roman law

As Italian succession law is based on the principles of Roman Law, it provides some protection to close members of the family. This therefore partially limits the right of the testator to dispose of his/her own assets.

Testamentary Succession is defined as the assignment of hereditary assets in compliance with the wishes of the testator as set out in an Italian Will. Whereas, in the absence of a Will, inheritance is devolved following the principles of Legal Succession. In other words, where there is no will, succession law gives rights to a number of legitimate heirs. This means that certain heirs have the legal right to inherit a portion of the deceased’s estate.

Known as legitimate, reserved or forced heirs, these beneficiaries are the spouse or registered partner of the deceased. Thereafter, beneficiaries include relatives identified by law as those closest to the deceased. For instance, children, parents and relatives up to the 6th degree of connection.

Italian succession law reserves a significant quota of inheritance for these beneficiaries. Because they are defined as forced heirs, it means that a testator cannot exclude them from inheriting, even with a Will.

However, when drafting an Italian will, the testator is free to dispose of a part of his assets known as the, “disposable quota”. This allows the testator to assign part of their assets to non‐relatives or organisations such as charities.

Our Italian inheritance law services

– Italian inheritance rights assessment

– Drafting Italian Wills

– Claiming / recovering inherited Italian property

– Italian property, titles, records searches

– Legal support for the sale of inherited Italian properties

– Obtaining appraisal and or a survey of inherited Italian property

– Determining Italian inheritance tax

– Obtaining copies of public Wills

– Challenging Wills drafted in conflict with the Italian legislation

– Managing Italian probate

– Registering inherited property in the name of heirs

– Obtaining release of inherited funds deposited in Italian banks

Read more about our Inheritance Services.

Finally …

If the deceased was resident in Italy at the time of death, Italian Inheritance Tax applies to the deceased’s worldwide assets. However, if the deceased lived outside Italy, Italian estate tax is only payable on assets located in Italy.

If you own assets in Italy, we recommend that you draft an Italian Will. And, if you need help with Italian estate planning, we can support you.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise with managing cross border succession and estate planning matters throughout Italy. We offer a full range of Italian inheritance law services. In addition, our firm is also a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.

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

If we can be of assistance, please get in touch at: info@detulliolawfirm.com

 

You may also be interested in our inheritance videos.

 

Reserved Acceptance – Italian Inheritance

Debts on an Italian inheritance

Accepting an Italian inheritance also implies taking on responsibility for any debts the decedent leaves. Heirs risk having to paying any debts they inherit from their own pockets. For this reason, Italian law confers a choice of whether to renounce or accept an inheritance. There is however, also a third way to mitigate risks: reserved acceptance. To illustrate the concept of reserved acceptance, below we provide a brief case study on this matter.

Silvia and Eric Jones owned a property in Liguria and were resident in Italy for many years. Sadly, in close succession, Silvia and Eric died.

The Jones’ sons, Larry and Tom, got in touch with De Tullio Law Firm about their parents’ Italian Wills. They had concerns regarding what happens when heirs are unsure exactly what they are inheriting. Larry and Tom believed that their parents had a lot of debts. They worry they will have to pay these debts if they accept the inheritance.

Because heirs have the possibility to accept an inheritance using reserved acceptance – “beneficio d’inventario”, it means that Larry and Tom will only be liable to pay their parents’ debts on any sum they inherit.

What is reserved acceptance?

If you are an heir, but you are unsure whether the inheritance contains more liabilities than assets, you can use, “beneficio d’inventario” (reserved acceptance). This avoids any merger between your estate and the decedent’s. Thus you will not be liable to pay off the decedent’s debts with your own money.

If, for example, you inherit €10,000, compared to a debt of €20,000, you will only be liable to pay the debt on the sum you have inherited, namely the €10,000.

Reserved acceptance is however not a good idea if an heir is certain that liabilities outweigh inherited assets (unless the heir wishes to pay debts in order to honour the decedent’s memory). Where certainty of debt exists, renouncing the inheritance is a more appropriate solution.

It is worth mentioning that certain people have to accept an inheritance through “beneficio d’inventario”. These people include minors under the age of eighteen, people in care and legal entities, including the State, associations and foundations.

How does reserved acceptance work?

You need a notarial deed for reserved acceptance. Alternatively, you can make a declaration to a clerk of the court in the district where the decdent had their last domicile.

Finally …

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.

If you are unsure about any aspect of an Italian inheritance, please contact us. We will be happy to provide you with more detailed information.

What is a Biotestamento (Living Will)?

A living will, biotestamento, allows a person to make decisions about medical treatment

Italian living will biotestamento

Biotestamento legislation in Italy is in two parts.

The first, more general part, deals with giving informed consent on medical treatments. The second part of the law specifically provides for a number of DATs (disposizioni anticipate di trattamento).

What are biotestamento DATs?

DATs allow a person to indicate wishes in relation to medical treatments in the event s/he is no longer conscious due to an accident or illness.

Every adult over the age of 18 years old, of sound mind, who does not expect to be capable of self-determination in the future, may make use of DATs. By filling in the relevant paperwork, a person expresses his/her wishes relating to medical treatments. These include consent or refusal of artificial hydration and feeding.

DATs are legally binding on medical staff unless they are manifestly inappropriate or non-compliant with the patient’s current medical condition or new therapies have become available since the person signed DATs.

DATs must be in the form of a notarised deed or as a certified private instrument.

Informed consent

The law on Biotestamento protects a person’s right to life, health, dignity and self-determination. It stipulates that no medical treatment may start or continue without the patient’s freely given and informed consent. All patients have the right to know their health conditions. Furthermore, they must receive exhaustive, up to date and comprehensible information about the diagnosis, prognosis, benefits and risks of diagnostic tests and of prescribed medical treatments. In addition patients have a right to understand any alternative treatments available and the consequences connected with refusal of treatment.

Possible interruption of artificial feeding and hydration

Every adult, over the age of 18 years old, of mind, has the right to fully or partially refuse any treatment or to revoke consent for treatment at any time. Feeding and hydration are comparable to medical treatments. It is therefore possible to refuse them or request that they stop.

Refusal of treatment and conscientious objection by doctors

The patient has the right to refuse medical care. Doctors can however conscientiously object to this. Therefore, if a patient refuses medical care and a doctor deems this will cause death, a doctor is under no professional obligation to fulfil the patient’s wishes. The patient, however, may turn to another doctor working in the same hospital or healthcare facility.

Futile medical care and deep sedation

A doctor must endeavour to alleviate a patient’s suffering. Even if the patient has refused to grant or withdrawn his/her consent to medical care. Where there is a short life expectancy or imminent death prognosis, the doctor must, however, abstain from unreasonably persisting in dispensing medical care. In case of illnesses resistant to medical treatments, with the patient’s consent, the doctor may resort to continuous deep palliative sedation associated with pain therapy.

Psychological support

Should the patient decide to revoke or refuse medical care, the doctor must inform the patient of the consequences associated with this decision. The doctor must also inform the patient about any possible alternative treatments. In addition, medical staff should promote all actions to support the patient, including psychological support services.

Minors and disabled persons

In order that they can express their wishes, minors and disabled persons must receive all information in an appropriate manner. Informed consent on medical treatments for minors is contingent on consent or refusal by the parents or legal guardian. However, the patient’s wishes must also be considered.

Fiduciaries

A patient may also appoint someone to represent them in all relations with doctors and medical facilities.

Finally …

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

If you need any advice regarding living wills or last wills, we are here to help. Please get in touch with us.

 

 

How Can An Italian inheritance Solicitor Help You?

Italian inheritance is complex. Get the right advice

If you are the beneficiary of assets in Italy, and you have decided to accept your Italian inheritance, it is a good idea to use a specialist Italian Inheritance solicitor to support you through the probate process. The Italian inheritance process can be complex so, obtaining the right legal advice and having the right lawyer on your side will be massively beneficial in terms of time and expense. Even more so, if you are not resident in Italy.

Why engage the services of an Italian inheritance lawyer?

Italian inheritance solicitor

A specialist Italian Inheritance lawyer will act on your behalf – and in your interests to protect your inheritance. This means that you can be certain of having a calm, rational, professional and trustworthy presence in Italy. You will also receive sound advice for all the issues that arise in your case throughout the inheritance process.

The Italian probate procedure is not always straightforward. It can be frustrating and time-consuming. A specialist Italian Inheritance lawyer will be able to guide you through all the legal and tax issues.

You may need to prove legal entitlement to your Italian inheritance. Your solicitor will be able to help you gather all the necessary paperwork to evidence your rights.

Although most inheritance cases go uncontested, some cases do end up in court. Where claims arise, it is wise to settle out of court. This helps to reduce the cost. However, if your case does end up in court, having an attorney on your side can be enormously advantageous. In fact, having your own attorney will help ensure that all of your documents are in order, strengthen your legal position and add knowledge to your case.

Finally …

Because the loss of a loved one makes families feel fragile and emotionally vulnerable, dealing with inheritance issues on top of loss can feel very stressful. Having a solicitor with legal expertise in Italian inheritance matters will help relieve some of that strain.

We have produced a comprehensive Guide to Italian Inheritance. It contains legal advice about the Italian Inheritance process, which we hope you will find useful.

If you would like to consult an Italian inheritance lawyer about your case, please contact us.

You may also be interested in How to write a Will