Italian Inheritance Law – An Overview
Inheritance law in Italy follows the Roman Law principle. This means it provides some protection to close members of the family. This therefore, partially limits the right of the testator to dispose of assets.
Testamentary Succession consists of the assignment of hereditary assets in compliance with the wishes of the testator as set out in an Italian will. In the absence of a will, inheritance devolves following the principles of Legal Succession.
The rights of heirs in Italian inheritance law
Where there is no will, succession law gives rights to a number of legitimate heirs to the assets of the deceased. These heirs are the spouse of the deceased and relatives that the law identifies as starting from closest kin to those up to a 6th degree of connection.
Inheritance law in Italy reserves a significant quota of an inheritance to very close relatives. The deceased’s spouse, registered partner, ascendants and descendants are all known as, “forced heirs”. This means that the testator cannot exclude them even through the means of a will. When drafting an Italian will, the testator is only able to dispose of a part of his assets. The testator can assign this, “disposable quota” to non-relatives.
The basis of Italian inheritance law is unity of inheritance. This distinguishes between movable and immovable assets
To clarify, 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, the law of the country where an immovable asset is located applies. Examples of immovable assets include houses, shops, buildings, agricultural or building land.
Therefore, the law of the country where a property is located will apply, unless in accordance with EU Regulations, a choice of country law is stipulated in a will.
The Italian succession procedure formally ends when all assets, rights and pending payments have been transferred to the rightful heirs either by mutual agreement or as consequence of judicial proceedings.