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Italian Inheritance Tax

Do beneficiaries need to pay tax on Italian inheritance?

This is a question we are often asked at De Tullio Law Firm. The answer is yes. Beneficiaries need to pay Italian inheritance tax.

Who calculates Italian inheritance tax?

Do beneficiaries have to pay taxes on inheritance?

When you become the beneficiary of an inheritance you may have to submit a statement of succession, “Dichiarazione di successione”  to the Italian tax authorities, “Agenzia delle Entrate”.

Firstly a succession procedure needs to be opened. Once this has happened, you can file the statement of succession. Although it is not always the case, the opening of a succession procedure usually coincides with a testator’s death. Your filing with the tax authorities should take place within 12 months of the succession procedure opening.

Once they receive the statement of succession, the tax authorities will calculate the amount of tax due on your inheritance.

It is worth noting however, that there is no obligation to file a statement of succession if the estate does not comprise any real estate. Likewise, if assets are valued at less than Euro 100,000 and the beneficiaries are a spouse, children and/or other direct heirs.

What is taxable?

In effect, Italian inheritance tax applies to the entire net value of the deceased’s estate. This therefore includes both movable and immovable assets.

Immovable assets include houses, shops, buildings, agricultural or building land.

Movable assets could for example include, boats, jewellery, works of art, bank and post office current accounts, money, investments such as shares, bonds, trust funds.

In addition, companies and shareholdings in companies are taxable. However, there are exceptions to this which would exempt heirs from inheritance tax.

How is Italian inheritance tax calculated?

Basic inheritance tax in Italy, “Imposta sulle Successioni” equates to 8% of the estate.

However, rates depend on the relationship of the beneficiary to the deceased.

The Italian inheritance tax rate drops to 6% between siblings, relatives up to the fourth degree cousins and relatives up to the third degree. This might for instance, be a spouse’s uncle. In the case of direct heirs such as the deceased’s children, spouse or registered partner, the applicable tax rate is 4%.

Summary of Italian inheritance tax rates

Heir Rate (Aliquota) Exemption up to
Spouse, relatives in the direct line of descent  (parents, grandparents, children, children’s children…) 4% 1.000.000 euro
Brothers and sisters 6% 100.000 euro
Other relatives up to grade 4, related in the direct line of descent, related in a collateral line up to grade 3 6% No exemption
Other subjects 8% No exemption

Finally …

Because Italian inheritance can be a complex matter and each case is different, we recommend that you seek expert support and advice.

If you wish to discuss your case with us or you are feeling unsure about anything related to Italian inheritance, do not hesitate to contact us for a free preliminary consultation.

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Italian Estate Administration

I have inherited Italian assets from a deceased relative. How does Italian estate administration work?

Italian estate administrationWe received this question from a reader wondering how to proceed with Italian probate. We hope that you find our answer helpful. If you have any queries related to Italian assets or inheritance law, please feel free to send your questions to us. We are here to help.

How is Italian inheritance governed?

According to the law of intestate succession, if the deceased didn’t have a will, the assets are transferred to descendants following the principles set out by Italian Civil Code.

If, on the other hand, the deceased made a will, this should indicate wishes regarding disposal of assets.

Types of will

In broad terms there are two types of will. Either an Italian will, which needs publishing and registering with the relevant Italian authorities. Or, a non-Italian will. In other words, an international will.

According to Italian inheritance obligations, an heir must first have an international will translated into Italian using a sworn translation in an Italian Court.

This can cause legal issues. A non-Italian will, especially if it lacks any explicit reference to the Italian assets, becomes subject to interpretation. In order to interpret the will, heirs need to engage an Italian attorney. This is because the Italian authorities need to ascertain whether or not the will is applicable to Italian assets. If the will does not expressly dispose of Italian assets, succession rights follow the rules of the Italian Civil Code.

Whether the deceased left an Italian or international will, heirs have to formally accept or renounce their Italian inheritance. This can be done tacitly or explicitly.

Tacit acceptance is implied. It occurs if, for example, if the heir disposes of or otherwise has dealings with the Italian assets, thereby showing an intent to accept the inheritance.

An explicit acceptance involves making a deed using the services of an Italian notary.

Where an heir is unsure whether or not to accept or renounce an Italian inheritance, a third option, reserved acceptance, offers a possible alternative route.

Once an heir accepts an inheritance, Italian estate administration can begin.

Italian estate administration process

Within twelve months of the testator’s death, heirs or executors  need to file a statement of succession  with the competent authority, which is the tax office – Agenzia delle Entrate. The tax office then calculates estate tax.

Heirs or executors pay the relevant inheritance tax connected with the inheritance. The amount of estate tax payable depends on heirs’ relationship to the deceased and the value of assets each inherits.

The final stage of Italian estate administration involves re-registering immovable assets in the names of the heir(s).

Finally …

Trying to navigate the Italian inheritance procedure without the assistance of an experienced Italian inheritance attorney can be difficult, especially if you are abroad. We would recommend that you seek professional advice and guidance to manage the process sympathetically and efficiently. For more in-depth information about Italian succession, you might find our Succession Guide useful.

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.

If you would like to discuss your case, you can reach us here for a free consultation.

Leasehold or Emphyteusis in Italy: What You Should Know

Emphyteusis is a type of leasehold arrangement

Leasehold or Emphyteusis in ItalyThe closest Common Law legal term to Emphyteusis is a leasehold.

The landlord retains the ownership of property. However, a tenant has the right to use it for a contractually agreed period of time. In this type of leasehold or Emphyteutical arrangement, the tenant must both maintain and improve the property.

Leasehold or Emphyteusis is a contractual arrangement which has its roots in Roman Law. It formed part of the feudal system and has connections to the agricultural economy. Farmers  had the possibility to cultivate land thereby sustaining themselves. In return, farmers paid an annual ground rent or canon in money and or in kind.

Italian leasehold or Emphyteusis arrangements are applicable to all types of physical assets

Contractual arrangements exist between two parties. On the one hand, the Dominium Directum, the freehold owner the (dominus) or landlord of the property. And, on the other hand, the Dominium Utile – the tenant (emphyteuta) who has the right to use property on a leasehold basis.

Emphyteusis is applicable to both land and buildings, including villas and apartments.

For the duration of an Emphyteusis contract, where land is involved, the tenant has the right to alter the surface of the land. This includes ploughing up pastures to cultivate a crop or plant trees.

Where the arrangement concerns buildings, a tenant may alter these. However, alterations must not cause any deterioration of the building. Therefore, if the tenant wishes to build an extension or add to existing structures, the tenant may do so.

The contract between the ‘landlord’ and the ‘tenant’ must be in writing. Rent payments are recurring and the duty to pay rent only ceases if the estate is destroyed. Destruction may either be due to human causes  such as a fire or through natural events for example, an earthquake.

Duration and obligations of leasehold or Emphyteusis contracts

Emphyteusis can be in perpetuity or limited to a minimum of 20 years. In either case, entitlements are the same.

In other words, a tenant may sublet the property, receive compensation for improvements made and even retain the property until full payment of his credit is rightfully received. These things, as well as those previously mentioned, do not require the consent of the landlord.

If the Emphyteusis has a duration of 20 years, the tenant cannot contractually transfer rights to another party. The right of pre-emption does not apply to the tenant in the same way it does to farmers. This means that the tenant in a leasehold or Empyteutical contract arrangement does not have right of first refusal to purchase land.

The tenant has a very broad right to dispose of the property held under perpetual Emphyteusis. Thus a tenant may dispose of the emphyteutical property by means of a deed in compliance with Italian Civil Code. This can either be an act inter vivos, i.e. made during the tenant’s lifetime, or causa mortis, i.e. after death. In the event of death, disposal is by means of a will.

Redemption of leasehold or Emphyteusis contracts

A tenant can acquire full ownership of Emphyteutical property through the payment of a price corresponding to fifteen times the annual rent. A tenant can make use of this redemption right at any time.

This redemption right prevails as an equivalent right accorded to the landlord in case of breach of contract by the tenant, known as the “devolution” (devoluzione).

Redemption may be settled either out of court, by means of an agreement between the landlord and tenant. A notarised deed must reflect the settlement. Where the landlord and tenant cannot reach agreement, the dispute can be settled in court.

You should always check the title deeds of a property for leasehold or Emphyteusis arrangements

A tenant must increase the productivity, the usefulness or the value of the estate, rural or urban. This obligation lasts for the duration of the term of Emphyteusis and must be in writing. Annual rents to the landlord are payable annually.

The landlord has the right to request the end of the Emphyteusis due to a breach of contract by the tenant. The landlord must refund any improvements the tenant has made. Payments should be proportional to the increase of value of the estate when it returns to the landlord.

Finally …

Acquiring, redeeming or disposing of property subject to leasehold or Emphyteusis arrangements can present challenges. Other types of leasehold arrangements also exist in Italian law. It is advisable that you contact an Italian lawyer to ensure you understand all the implications of such arrangements.

If you are looking at a real estate investment in Italy, why not talk to us? De Tullio Law Firm can advise and guide you throughout your Italian property purchasing journey. We have over 55 years of experience working with clients on their Italian and cross border property, family and inheritance matters. We are here to help.  Get in touch with us.

 

Italian Will. Why Is It Worth Drafting An Italian Will?

Why is it worthwhile making an Italian will?

Italian willIf you own property in Italy, having an Italian will can prevent all sorts of difficulties for heirs when transferring ownership of an Italian property.

In Italy, the disposal of an estate occurs in compliance with the decisions of the testator as set out in an will. Or, where the deceased was intestate, in accordance with inheritance law.

in Italy, the law requires that a public notary authenticate a will before probate can begin.

Although, generally speaking, Italy recognises the validity of international wills, they can raise a number of difficulties. As a matter of fact, a notary cannot publish or legalise documents in a foreign language until a court-sworn translator has translated them into Italian. This entails additional cost. It can also lead to misinterpretations of the testator’s wishes regarding disposal of an estate. Sorting out any misunderstandings may end up being another costly and lengthy matter.

It is also worth bearing in mind that having an Italian will can speed up  administrative procedures. For example, with banks. In Italy, accounts and deposits of the deceased are frozen following an account holder’s death. The procedure to access funds can be a difficult and protracted process. Heirs will have to pay certain expenses from their own pockets in the meantime.

In summary. The main advantages to making an Italian will are threefold

1. Reduces the risk of conflict among heirs.

2. Creates possible inheritance tax reductions for heirs.

3. Makes the decedent’s wishes clear to Italian authorities.

A competent legal advisor can help you draft a will that complies with EU Succession Regulations and Italian law. This limits the effects of legal succession in Italy and ensures that the estate is disposed of according to the testator’s wishes, without violating EU and Italian succession regulations.

Finally …

Inheritance is a complex matter. In addition, if you own assets in more than one country, this can further compound the complexity. We recommend you seek independent legal advice regarding your personal situation. If we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

For more information about succession and inheritance in Italy, you may find our Italian Succession Guide useful.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters. We are a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.

 

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Unclaimed Italian Property

What is unclaimed Italian property?

Unclaimed Italian propertyBetween 1861 and 1985 over 29 million Italians emigrated to other countries. About 18 million Italians permanently settled abroad. Today several tens of millions people living abroad have Italian heritage. When Italian emigrants went abroad, they often left property and land in Italy. This is now unclaimed Italian property.

Many people think that the Italian State confiscated unclaimed property. This is a myth. The reality is that the property is still here in Italy and the original owners are still on the title deeds.

There are many thousands of unclaimed properties and parcels of land  throughout Italy. In many cases, the descendants of emigrants living outside Italy could still claim these properties.

Beware!

Over the years, descendants of Italian emigrants have contacted us for help and advice. They are trying to find their ancestors’ property in Italy. Sadly, in some cases, people have spent considerable time and substantial amounts of money before contacting us.

We have heard about people receiving letters from organisations asking for an upfront fee and promising help with locating and retrieving an unclaimed Italian property.

Needless to say, many people never hear anything once they have paid the fee. So, if you get a letter like this, be cautious. Look up the company and check credentials before you part with any money.

Seek qualified help

In the first instance, legitimate researchers will seek unclaimed Italian property through sources made available under freedom of information laws. For example, since 2014, the Italian Tax Authority has made it possible for the public to search online for land registry records and titles. You will need to register an account, then supply information such as:

– Name of presumed owner, even if deceased (maiden name, if female).

– Exact town of birth in Italy.

– Name of father of the presumed owner.

– Date of Birth (year) of the presumed owner (records only available post 1880).

Some people try to take a DIY approach. However interpreting search results can however make this difficult. In addition, land registry results may not always be accurate. They could, for example, be out of date or show the name of a previous owner.

If you know, or believe that your family has unclaimed property in Italy and you need help, make sure you engage the services of reputable and experienced professionals.

Finally …

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice. We offer services in all the major fields of Italian law with particular expertise in real estate, residency, family law and inheritance matters. If you would like to discuss your situation, we are here to help. Please get in touch with us.