Thinking long term about Italian assets
Do you, or your family, own Italian assets? Are you thinking of buying a property in Italy? If so, it is advisable to research and prepare for the future of those Italian assets. You may like to watch our short video on this subject.
Inheritance and probate laws vary from country to country. Italian assets will not be subject to the same laws as your assets at home. If the deceased was resident in Italy at the time of death, Italian Inheritance law applies to the deceased’s worldwide assets. Whereas if the deceased lived outside Italy, Italian inheritance law is only applicable to assets in Italy.
The succession process following the death of a loved one can become complicated and stressful. When you need to consider assets abroad it can also become frustrating and costly.
In 2015 a new EU regulation came into force. Known as Brussels IV, this regulation aims to facilitate cross border succession.
Brussels IV enables a testator with assets abroad to choose which country’s law will govern their will. In addition, it introduced a European Certificate of Succession (ECS). Heirs, legatees, executors of wills and administrators of the estate can use an ECS to prove their status and exercise their rights or powers in other EU Member States.
Brussels IV also offers potential benefits for non-EU nationals. Again appropriate action needs to be taken in the form of a choice of law clause in a will. For example, US nationals could nominate US law to apply to the succession of their property in Italy. An Australian with property in Spain could nominate Australian law. A Canadian citizen with property in France could elect Canadian law, and so on.
The country where the deceased was habitually resident determines the way Italian assets are handled
With or without a will, applicable laws and processes vary. For instance, in Italy, a public notary must authenticate a will before probate can commence.
If the testator did not draft an Italian will, a sworn translation of international wills is necessary. Because the testator is no longer around, a translation of a will can create issues and misunderstandings during the probate process. Having separate wills in the countries where you have assets is therefore the best method to prevent problems after your death.
If no will exists, the situation can become very complex for heirs. It is advisable to enlist the help of a specialist lawyer in Italy to manage the succession of Italian assets. If you would like more detailed information about the Italian succession process, you find our Guide to Italian Inheritance helpful.
If you own Italian assets or, you are a beneficiary of an Italian inheritance, it is always advisable to seek legal advice. A lawyer will be in a position to provide useful information about tax liabilities on Italian assets. In addition, a lawyer will also be able to provide information about the rights and responsibilities of an heir. An experienced legal professional will be able to provide advice based on a comprehensive inventory of the assets in question. This will allow you to make an informed decision on how best to proceed.
If you own Italian assets don’t put off estate planning because they think you do not own enough, you are not old enough, it will be costly or confusing, you will have plenty of time to do it later, you do not know where to begin or who can help you, or you just do not want to think about it.
Estate planning should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. You should review and update your plan as your family and circumstances change. This would include when you make an international investment such as a property purchase in Italy.
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 cross border inheritance questions or if would like to discuss your situation.