Different types of Italian Wills

Different types of Italian Wills

Different types of Italian wills

There are three different types of Italian wills.

A Formal will (Testamento Pubblico), drawn up by a Public Notary on the testator’s instructions. Witnessed and deposited with Public Notary until testator’s death.

A Holographic will (Testamento Olografo), handwritten, dated and signed by the testator. No witnesses required. The testator can deposit this with a lawyer, Notary Public or keep it themselves until death.

A Sealed or Secret will (Testamento Segreto), handwritten by the testator, is placed in a sealed envelope and deposited with a Public Notary until the testator’s death.

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All three different types of Italian wills must be in Italian to comply with the Italian civil code. To avoid potentially significant difficulties following the death of a testator, we recommend engaging a lawyer to assist you with all Italian will formalities and legal requirements when making an Italian will.

Searching for different types of wills in Italy

For a Formal or Holographic will, deposited with a Public Notary. You can request it by presenting the death certificate to the District Chamber of Notaries (Consiglio Notarile distrettuale).

It is also advisable to submit a request to the Notary Archives Registry Office, in charge of keeping the deeds and wills deposited by the notaries who have ceased business. You can also consult the General Will Registry Bureau (Registro Generale dei Testamenti), whose headquarters are at the Main Office of the Notary Archives (Ufficio Centrale degli Archivi Notarili) in Rome.

The General Will Registry Bureau provides the possibility to find out if the deceased had a will or not, whether in Italy or abroad. You can also request the issuance of a decedent’s will through the Bureau, to the relevant entity of a foreign country that has adhered to the International Basel Convention. Other than Italy, the countries which have signed the Basel Convention are Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine.

According to Italian will formalities, interested parties may request a subscription certificate, in the name of the deceased, from the General Will Registry Bureau, as well as the reference to the district notary archive where the will was deposited, in case the notary has ceased business.

The General Will Registry hold the following records:

1. Formal wills;

2. Sealed /Secret wills;

3. Special wills;

4. Holographic wills that testators have formally deposited with a Public Notary;

5. Memorandum of publication of Holographic wills, whether or not deposited with a Public Notary;

6. Withdrawal of Holographic and Sealed/Secret wills, that the testator formally deposited at a Public Notary’s office;

7. Suspension of previous arrangements caused by death, providing some had been made by means of a new will.


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 throughout Italy.

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

You may like to read more about Italian succession in our comprehensive guide on the subject. You may also find our Italian inheritance info videos useful.


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