Making an Italian will facilitates the Italian succession process
Do you own property at home and in Italy? If so, we would advise that you make an Italian will. If you are resident in Italy at the time of your death, Italian Inheritance law is applicable to your worldwide assets. Whereas if you were resident outside Italy, Italian inheritance law is applicable to assets in Italy. Either way, Italian law governs your Italian property.
Making an Italian will therefore facilitate the way forward for those you leave behind. It reduces translation costs and prevents potentially costly disputes and misinterpretations regarding your wishes. In addition, an Italian will also creates tax and administration efficiencies.
Isn’t making an Italian Will expensive?
On the contrary, the cost of making an Italian Will is not excessive. It is a worthwhile expense to keep your affairs in order and save stress, time and expense after your death.
Can you make a DIY will in Italy?
It is possible to make an Italian DIY will. In a previous article, we have provided a simple template for this purpose.
However, if your circumstances are even slightly complex, you could be causing more problems than you solve. If you own assets in Italy and elsewhere, this is a more complex cross-border situation. If you make your own will, without legal assistance, it can lead to mistakes or a lack of clarity. You may even run the risk of your will being invalid.
Seeking legal assistance when making an Italian will is advisable
If you have a number of beneficiaries, if you own assets in Italy and elsewhere, if you have residential or business connections in Italy, we would always counsel taking legal advice from a specialist Italian inheritance lawyer.
In Italy, couple cannot have a joint will. Each spouse or partner needs their own separate will. Therefore, you should seek advice if you live with someone, if you are married or in a civil partnership. Likewise you should seek advice if you have children from a previous relationship or step-children. The latter may not automatically be beneficiaries of your estate.
Wills, estate-planning and inheritance are serious matters. They touch many lives in many ways. If you die intestate – without a will, you have no say in what happens to your estate. Instead, the division of your estate will be determined by the law of the country (or countries) where your assets are situated.
In Italy, succession law is based on the principle of ‘Unity of Inheritance’. This principle differs substantially from common law. Essentially, you may find that Italian assets you own are not inherited by those who you wished and, the whole estate may not be passed on in the most tax-efficient way.
You should review your will periodically
Estate planning should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. You should review and update your will as your family and circumstances change. This would include when you make an international investment.
Once you have written your will, you should review it regularly to make sure it reflects your wishes, especially if your life changes.
People put off making a will because they think they do not own enough, they are not old enough, it will be costly or confusing, they will have plenty of time to do it later, they do not know where to begin or who can help them, or they just do not want to think about it.
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 are buying or already own an Italian property and have any questions about making or reviewing a will.
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