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.
Are international wills valid for an Italian inheritance?
Generally speaking, Italy recognises the validity of international wills. However, it is advisable for non-Italian nationals who own assets in Italy to draft an Italian will.
Why should you have an Italian will?
Firstly, having an Italian will minimises misunderstandings and/or conflicts amongst heirs. Secondly, it facilitates legislative, linguistic and jurisdictional matters with the Italian authorities. Thirdly, having an Italian will can reduce estate tax and lastly, it simplifies the whole inheritance procedure.
Where can I get help drafting an Italian will?
If a foreign national decides to dispose of Italian assets by means of a will in Italy, an Italian attorney, will be able to advise on all aspects of Italian Inheritance Law. It is a good idea to engage the services of an Italian attorney familiar with both the Italian and the testator’s national jurisdictions.
Italian inheritance law stipulates that the testator must leave a certain portion of assets to immediate family members. This is known as, “Forced Heirship”. Forced heirs are the decedent’s spouse and/or children, or other parties to whom a testator cannot legally deny a portion of assets.
It is important to follow the Italian inheritance procedure accurately. Engaging the services of a qualified and experienced Italian lawyer is therefore highly advisable.
In order to draft a will in Italy, the testator must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind and the legal owner of the assets in the will.
How does the Italian inheritance process work?
Following the death of a testator, the first step is to have the will published. As with all major events in life, an Italian notary needs to do this. Next, a testator’s heirs or executors can proceed with Italian Probate. This involves making an declaration of succession “Denuncia di Successione” in Italian.
Probate must take place within 12 months of a testator’s death. The declaration of succession lists all the relevant assets for the Italian tax authorities who calculate estate tax. Italian estate tax rates are based on heirs’ relationship to the testator and the value of inherited assets.
Once estate tax has been paid, the procedure culminates with the transfer of inherited property in the Land Registry, “Voltura” in Italian.
A new EU Law 650/2012, also known as the Brussels IV Regulation came into effect on 17th August 2015. Brussels IV contains a provision for individuals to make an election in their wills for the country of their nationality, or where individuals have multiple nationalities any one of their nationalities, to apply to the devolution of their estate.
Interestingly, there are also potential benefits for non-EU nationals. However, again, appropriate action in the form of a choice of law clause in a will is necessary.
Nominating a country law needs careful consideration. You should take into account matters such as foreign matrimonial regimes, usufruct, tax consequences, joint ownership structures and other foreign proprietary rights with respect to your estate.
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 questions about estate planning or if would like to discuss your situation.
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