Tag Archive for: Italian Inheritance

Partition of an Italian estate. Inheritance Law

How does the partition of an Italian Estate work?

In this article we explore the partition of an Italian estate. A testator’s estate comprises assets and rights.

Whenever there is more than one heir in an Italian will, this triggers a condition of joint-ownership of rights and duties.

The co-heirs receive the estate in accordance with their inheritance quota.

This quota may be in  accordance with a will or, where the deceased was intestate, in accordance with Italian inheritance law. Beneficiaries inherit not only assets but also take on any liabilities of the testator.

Partition of an Italian estate refers to the division of assets and liabilities between beneficiaries

At this point, it should be noted that each co-heir has the right to request the partition of an estate at any time following the death of the deceased, unless otherwise stipulated in a will.

As a result, all co-heirs, or their successors (legatees), must take part in the partition of an estate. Failure of one or more beneficiaries to participate, will render their rights invalid. As a matter of fact, absentee co-heirs cannot later rectify this.

According to Italian legislation, the partition of an estate can be executed through three methods:

1. Amicable partition

In order to convert co-heirs’ legitimate rights to a quota of the estate into rights on single assets from the estate, an amicable partition can be made. This would be in the form of a contract. The contract then ensures that the value of the assets individually assigned (known as de facto quotas) equate to the value of the joint ownership quotas.

2. Judicial partition

Should co-heirs disagree on the the partition of an estate, each of them can refer it to the courts. A judgment regarding the partition of an estate may include a number of options. For example:

INVENTORY OF THE INHERITED ESTATE

This includes all the assets and/or liabilities left to the co-heirs by the deceased.

APPRAISAL OF ASSETS

This determines the market value of assets. The testator may have nominated a person or organisation in a will to conduct the appraisal. No estimates are necessary if assets belong in the same asset category. However, in other cases, the estimate of individual assets is essential in order to make portions of value corresponding to the quota of each co-heir in the decedent’s will.  If the decedent died intestate, apportionment is according to Italian inheritance law.

POSSIBLE SALE OF INDIVISIBLE ASSETS

Prior to the partition of an Italian estate, it may be necessary to sell real estate property or to assign property to one of the co-heirs in return for payment. Co-heirs would then receive the proceeds to make up their share of inheritance.

3. Testamentary partition

A testator can stipulate in a will, either the portions to assign to each co-heir, or can simply lay down terms in order to set quotas.

Because the effective value of a testator’s assets may not cover the quotas stipulated in a will and co-heirs dispute the partition of an estate, they have the same recourse: amicable or judicial partition.

Finally …

As a co-heir, it may be difficult for you to manage succession procedures or participate in the partition of the estate in Italy. You can confer a Power of Attorney to sign inheritance documents and paperwork. A specialist Italian inheritance lawyer can assist you and will work in your best interests.

You might find De Tullio Law Firm’s comprehensive Guide to Italian Inheritance useful. If you would like to discuss your situation, you can get in touch with us for a free consultation.

You may also beinterested in Accepting an inheritance with the benefit of inventory in Italy

Italian Inheritance. Why draft an Italian Will?

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.

Finally …

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.

You may also be interested in How to write a Will

Italian Estate Administration

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

We received this question from a reader wondering how to proceed with Italian estate administration. 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.

Heirs need to accept or renounce an inheritance before Italian estate administration can begin

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.

Italian Notary

What is the difference between an Italian notary and a lawyer?

International clients are often confused about the role of an Italian Notary. There is a mistaken belief that a public notary (notaio) performs the same function as a lawyer, solicitor or attorney (avvocato). This is not the case.

Public notaries emerged from the institution of scribes and scriveners. They were revered and knowledgeable public officials of the Roman Empire. These Notaries prepared and drew up fair copies of deeds and other legal documents. They endorsed these documents using the seal of the court and thus the documents became ‘public acts’. Eventually, Notaries gained the right to use their own official seals to give their acts public status.

In modern times, Italian notaries act on behalf of the Italian State. It is the Italian Ministry of Justice that appoints them. Because an Italian notary is an official of the Italian State, a document endorsed by a notaio guarantees its legal status.

On the other hand, a lawyer, is someone you engage to act exclusively on your behalf in a legal matter. Whereas a lawyer exclusively commits to protecting your interests, a notaio endorses acts, deeds and documents and collects taxes.

A notaio is a qualified lawyer who works as a public officer for the Italian State. However, because an Italian notary is an official of the State, by law they must maintain impartiality in all transactions. A notary cannot therefore provide legal representation to any party involved. A notary can however provide advice if requested but, must protect parties equally.

An Italian notary prepares acts, endorses documents and collects tax for the Italian State

Notaries operate in every area of law including family, property, inheritance, asset, corporate, rural, local authority, and other areas. An Italian notary is present at all significant times in life which require a State document or tax payment.

A notary is empowered by the Italian State to endorse documents, agreements, contracts and other instruments by affixing a seal and signature.  In so doing, Italian Public Notaries officially witness the wishes expressed by the signatories and give a personal guarantee regarding the content and date of the instrument.

Although a notaio has public authority, the notaio operates on a self-employed basis. They are mostly paid by clients (not by the taxpayer) on the basis of a rate fixed by the Italian State for notarial services.

Regardless of whether a property is purchased from a private vendor or through a real estate agent, in accordance with Italian legislation, a notaio must oversee the sale. The notaio is responsible for receiving all legal documents pertaining to the sale, verifying their authenticity and drawing up the deed of sale – Atto di Vendita.

Often in Italy the vendor and purchaser use a single notaio for a property transaction. According to Italian law, it is the buyer’s legal right to appoint the notary public. We would advise that buyers choose their own notary. You should bear in mind that an estate agent and the vendor have a vested interest in selling a property. Using a notary recommended by these parties may therefore create a conflict of interest.

What is the specific role of an Italian notary in Italian property transactions?

The notaio may execute certain checks at the very end of the conveyancing process but, this would only be after the buyer has already paid substantial deposits to the vendor.

Checks might include each party’s rights to buy or sell the property, or a land registry search to see whether any third parties have a claim on the property. A notary may also search for any mortgages on the property or verify the presence at of planning permission. However, a notary public will not inspect the property to make sure it actually complies with planning permission.

The main role of the notaio therefore revolves around the exchange of contracts. This involves drawing up the deed of sale. This is based on input from the vendor and/or the estate agent and the preliminary contract.

At the signing of the deed of sale, an Italian notary first verifies the identity of parties involved in the transaction. Then the notaio reads the contract aloud to all parties. After all parties have signed, the notaio provides a copy of the deed of sale to both buyer and vendor and oversees the transfer of funds for the transaction. In addition, the notary ensures that the Italian State receives taxes and fees in full. Finally, the notary registers the new deed of ownership at the land registry.

Why would a buyer need an avvocato for a property transaction?

Although it is not a legal requirement in Italy, as they would in their home country, many buyers appoint an avvocato to make sure their best interests are served throughout the three-step Italian property purchasing process.

A buyer’s avvocato will conduct thorough due diligence, searches and detailed checks on the buyer’s behalf and provide legal advice throughout the Italian property purchasing process.

Having your own lawyer ensures you get:

– the best contractual terms and conditions on the property

– deposit protection

– efficient and smooth conveyancing

– no hidden surprises along the way or later

Finally …

If you are thinking of making 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. Get in touch.


You might find our guide to buying property in Italy useful.
For more information about the Italian notary’s role in property transactions, visit the Consiglio Nazionale del Notariato website.

Estate Planning And Tax. Buying An Italian Property

Tax and estate planning matters. Think long term when buying property in Italy


Owning a second home in your home country presents administrative and logistical challenges. However, at least that second home is within linguistic, tax and legal frameworks that are familiar to you. 
The challenges escalate with a foreign property. Italy is a popular choice for second home ownership. In recent years foreign ownership of Italian property has increased as people take advantage of favourable property prices.  If you are considering buying a property in Italy, you should carefully think through Italian estate planning aspects. In particular tax and succession matters.

You should always seek independent tax and estate planning advice, from experts in Italy as well and at home.

There are a number of tax issues to consider in Italy and in your home country. Any of the following may trigger a tax event in either or both your home country and Italy:

– Disposal of property or investments to fund the purchase of an Italian property.

– Transferring money to Italy.

– Associated property purchase tax (local equivalent of closing costs / stamp duty).

– Local service taxes on the running of the property.

– Income tax from letting the property.

– Estate and transfer taxes on the death of an owner.

– Capital Gains Tax on the transfer or sale of the property.

Income Tax

If you are resident outside of Italy, you may be liable to pay income tax on all income, regardless of where this arises.  For example, UK residents who generate an income by letting an Italian property will be subject to UK income tax on the rental income. There will also be a liability to pay tax in Italy. There may be some double taxation relief available. However, it is essential that prior to purchasing a second home and commencing any rental activity that you seek advice both at home and in Italy.

Capital Gains Tax

Foreign nationals who own a property in Italy may be subject to Capital Gains Tax at home. If the Italian property is not the owner’s main residence, when the owner sells or transfers the property title, there may be a tax payment on any profit. There will also be a liability in Italy.

Inheritance Tax

Individuals who are domiciled, for example, in the UK are subject to UK Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) on their worldwide assets in the event of their death. UK IHT does not therefore just apply in respect of assets physically located in the UK if an individual is domiciled in the UK. In addition, Italian Estate Tax will apply to the entire net value of the decedent’s estate, including movable and immovable assets in Italy.

Italian estate tax rates depend on the relationship of the beneficiary with the deceased. Spouse and children: 4% of the estate value, with an exemption of EUR 1 million for each beneficiary. Siblings and close relatives (up to fourth degree of kinship): 6%. Each sibling is entitled to an allowance of EUR 100,000. Any other beneficiary: 8%, with no allowances.

There may be some double taxation relief available. Because each case is different, it is crucial to take advice before purchasing a property in Italy.

Estate planning. Make an Italian will

It is essential to take advice on the succession implications of owning a property in Italy at an early stage. Buyers should consult an Italian solicitor and a solicitor in their home country. A specialist estate planning lawyer will have experience of managing all aspects which arise with cross-border assets or estates.

Generally, succession to a property is subject to the law of the country where that property is physically situated. However, a 2015 EU Regulation known as, “Brussels IV”, makes it possible to nominate a jurisdiction to rule your succession. Even if your home country is not part of the EU, Brussels IV is still applicable to non-EU nationals who own assets in Italy.

It is wise to make a separate will in Italian, to ensure that your property passes to your chosen beneficiaries after your death in the most tax efficient way.

Based on Roman law, Italy has, “Forced Heirship” rules. These govern what portion close family members must receive from an Italian estate. Seeking professional advice is therefore essential to understand how these rules apply to your specific circumstances.

Even though having an Italian will is not a legal requirement, it can save costs, time and misunderstandings for those you leave behind. In addition, your local solicitor will wish to confirm that your home country will takes precedence in Italy. 

Finally …

People put off estate planning 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.

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.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters. We operate throughout Italy. Our firm is 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 your estate planning.

 

For more in depth information about Italian succession, you might find our Succession Guide useful.

 

Executor in Italian Succession

What is the role of an executor in Italian succession?


Only a testator may appoint an executor in a will. An 
executor in an Italian succession procedure is responsible for managing your last wishes and the administration of your estate. Your appointed executor should agree to undertake to manage your estate with all reasonable care.

In Italy, an executor manages all succession procedures in accordance with Italian legislation

First, the executor must take possession of all the assets included in your estate. Then the executor manages the distribution of assets and bequests to heirs in accordance with your will. If you appoint an executor, your heirs may neither manage nor dispose of your assets autonomously.

Appointing an executor is highly recommended in complex personal or patrimonial frameworks. For example, an estate involving cross-border assets. Similarly, if estate transfer is to heirs living outside of Italy or who are not Italian nationals or the testator feels may have vested or conflicts of interest. Another example would be if an heir is legally incapacitated or under the age of 18.

According to Italian law, an executor has the power to manage the deceased’s estate. As previously mentioned, this involves taking possession of the assets and distributing them among heirs forced and nominated heirs as applicable. Where a court claim or dispute arises, the executor actively and passively represents the deceased. In addition, the executor is responsible for obtaining relevant legal consents where heirs are minors, absent, legally incapacitated or legal entities.

Once the Italian succession procedure is complete, the executor must render detailed accounts. An executor is personally liable to pay any damages to heirs or legatees in case of mismanagement.

Is it possible to take a “DIY” approach to Italian estate administration?

Of course, you don’t need to appoint an executor in your will. Your heirs can manage the whole Italian succession procedure themselves. That said, the death of a relative or friend is a very stressful and emotional time. If the estate involves any complexity such as property in Italy, this can lead to misunderstandings or conflicts among heirs.

If you are making or reviewing your will, appointing an experienced estate lawyer as your executor protects your heirs from misunderstandings. In addition, it will reduce costs deriving from procedural mistakes and inheritance tax calculations.

Likewise if you are an executor of an Italian estate, a lawyer will be able to help with the Italian succession procedure. Engaging a specialist Italian inheritance lawyer will facilitate the whole process. It can save money and headaches with paperwork or red tape and prevents procedural mistakes and omissions. Plus if a costly error does happen, your lawyer is jointly liable.

Finally …

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 your Italian estate planning.

Cross-Border Inheritance in Italy. A Case Study

What is the legal situation if you own assets in Italy and abroad?


Cross-border inheritance cases have increased during the past decade. In this article we therefore explore one such cross-border inheritance case.

Tom Smith was a UK national in his 60s. He had two children from his first marriage, both children are now adults. On a trip to Italy 20 years ago, Tom met a young Italian woman, Giovanna. A few years later, they got married in Giovanna’s home town – Perugia, in Umbria.

Tom and Giovanna set up home in the countryside, about 30kms from Perugia. They lived in a house on two hectares of land set to orchards and olive groves.

Tom and Giovanna have a daughter. Francesca, now aged 15, was born in Italy and holds dual British and Italian nationality.

Cross-border investments

Before he met and married Giovanna, Tom had purchased a property in Bath in southwest England. The title is in Tom’s name only and the property is currently valued at about £1 million. During their marriage, Tom and Giovanna purchased a property in Cornwall, now worth about £300 thousand, which they jointly own.

The property in the Umbrian countryside was purchased for €250 thousand in 2007, under the Italian marital “Community of Property” regime.

In his name only, Tom also has a portfolio of investments in the UK. The portfolio is worth about £200 thousand. In addition, Tom has UK bank accounts with a balance of £10 thousand. He and Giovanna have a joint bank account in Italy with a balance of €12 thousand. The family mainly used this for property maintenance, tax and living expenses in Italy.

Wills

When Francesca was born in 2002, Tom made a new English will. He revoked his former will at that time. Tom left legacies of £100 thousand to each of his two adult children, with the residue of the estate held in trust with an income to his wife Giovanna for life. On Giovanna’s death, the estate passed to Francesca. He appointed an English solicitor as executor and trustee of the estate.

Tragically, one morning last year, while Tom was working in his olive grove, he suffered a  fatal heart attack. Giovanna is now finding it impossible to cope with the house and land in the Italian countryside. She wants to sell the property and purchase an apartment for herself and Francesca in Perugia.

Giovanna thinks Tom had an Italian will that mirrored his English will. However, she has been unable to locate it.

As he is unfamiliar with all the intricacies of Italian law and the Italian inheritance and probate procedure, the English solicitor has contacted us. He has a number questions regarding Tom Smith’s cross-border inheritance case.

Cross-border inheritance Q&A

Is Tom Smith’s English will recognised under Italian law? If so, do the Italian authorities require a UK grant of probate before commencing the administration of the Italian estate?

Assuming Tom Smith’s will is recognised as valid by the UK authorities, it is also recognised under Italian law. A UK grant of probate evidences the recognition of a will by the UK authorities. You may require a certificate of English law as proof of recognition in order to start succession procedures in Italy.

Is it possible Tom also left an Italian Will? What searches could I undertake to ascertain this?

There are three types of will in Italy. Because Giovanna is unable to locate an Italian will, it’s possible that Tom had a will which he deposited with a notary. You can request a search of notarial archives and/or the General Wills Registry in Rome.

What steps, if any, should I take immediately in Italy? Who can take such steps?

Any individual with an interest in the succession can start the relevant succession procedures in Italy. However, in order to facilitate the process, you may wish to obtain support from an Italian inheritance lawyer. The priority is to file the statement of succession with the Italian Inland Revenue (Agenzia delle Entrate).

Can I liaise directly with the bank in Italy, requiring funds to be transferred directly to Giovanna and Francesca?

Yes. However, prior to the completion of succession procedures in Italy, the bank will not release any funds.

As the executor of Tom Smith’s will, can I sell the Italian property directly to a third party? Which law governs the administration of the Italian property?

An executor should dispose of the inheritance assets in compliance with the will. In principle, the administration of an Italian property is subject to Italian law.

Under Italian conflicts rules, which law governs the succession of Italian property?

Italy is a signatory to the EU Succession Regulation. Art. 22 of the EU Succession Regulation provides that a testator may choose, or determine, the law of their nationality as the law to govern the succession as a whole, professio juris (choice of law). Alternatively, with regard to property, succession is subject to Italian law. As far as movable assets are concerned, succession will be regulated by the law of domicile.

Are there any forced heirship rules in Italy? Will they be applicable in this particular case?

Forced heirship rules exists in Italy. They are applicable in this case both to Tom Smith’s direct descendent – his daughter, Francesca and to Giovanna his surviving spouse.

If the Italian property cannot be sold, could the trustee and/or Francesca be one of the registered owners of the property?

They can, provided Tom named them in his will.

Would it have been easier for Tom Smith to make a will under Italian law to dispose of his assets?

Certainly the whole succession procedure would have been easier and more practical if Tom Smith had a will in Italian. In fact, there are difficulties in managing an iternational will in Italy. A will in a foreign language requires a certified translation by a sworn translator. This, in turn, can lead to issues regarding exact interpretation of the testator’s wishes by the Italian authorities. This may lead to a more costly and protracted succession procedure.

Is there any inheritance tax in Italy and, if so, who is liable for the payments?

Yes. Firstly, you need to open a succession procedure. Next, you need to 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. Thereafter, a filing with the tax authorities should take place – within 12 months of opening the succession procedure. Once the tax authorities receive the statement of succession, they will be able to calculate the amount of inheritance tax due from each heir on their share of the inheritance.

Finally …

Trying to navigate the Italian and cross-border inheritance procedures without the assistance of an experienced Italian inheritance attorney can be difficult. If you live abroad, this may add a layer of complexity. We would therefore recommend that you seek professional advice and guidance to manage the process sympathetically and efficiently.

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.

In order to understand more about Italian and cross-border inheritance, you might like to read our guide.

Make an Italian Will if you own property in Italy

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. 

Finally …

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.

 

You may also like Estate Planning And Tax. Buying An Italian Property.

Do You Have A Dormant Account in Italy?

How does Italian law define dormant accounts?

According to Italian law, a dormant account contains a sum over €100 that has not been moved by the owner for a period of 10 years.

A dormant account may be with a bank or other financial institution and can be an account or financial instrument. This includes any inactive deposits in savings account books, bank accounts, postal accounts, shares, bonds and government securities.

Is it true that funds in a dormant account can be transferred into an Italian government fund? 

Rules establish that financial institutions can terminate contractual relationships dormant for 10 years or more with sums of at least €100. These dormant funds transfer to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. Article 1 paragraph 343 Law 2005 n. 266 designates these funds for social purposes. 

However, before any sum devolves into the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance fund, the owners of a dormant account must receive notification from the financial institution.

Thereafter, owners have a period of 180 days to reactivate the dormant account. Either owners can make a transaction or, they can notify the financial institution of their wish to continue the contractual relationship. 

Even if sums have transferred to the government fund, the account owner may still claim a refund. Owners of dormant accounts have 10 years to claim a refund.

Who is entitled to a refund? 

Provided that the ten year statute of limitation has not elapsed, owners of accounts or their assignees can claim a refund. The ten year statute of limitation starts from the date the financial institution transferred sums to the government fund, or the issuance of a banker’s draft.

How do you get a refund?

First, you will have to prove you are the owner or beneficiary of a dormant account. In order to do this you will need to visit the Consap website. This system will ascertain if a dormant account exists according to the data you provide and permit you to download a refund form, which you will need to fill.

Where you have inherited a dormant account, you will need to provide a self-certification document, which will be verified by Consap.

Owners of dormant accounts should check the Consap website for details or they can send their application to:

Consap S.p.A.

Rif. Rapporti dormienti

Via Yser, 14

I-00198 Roma

or via e-mail to rapportidormienti@consap.it

Claimants will need to supply proof of their right to a refund. The type of documents will depend on personal circumstances. These may include:

– Copy of identity card or other ID of the applicant entitled to refund.

– Copy of fiscal code of the applicant entitled to refund.

– The account owner’s death certificate.

– Copy of savings passbook or of a bank statement.

– Statement attesting heir’s entitlement.

– Statement of termination of contractual relationship by the financial institution.

– Notification of transfer to the government fund.

After verifying entitlement to a refund, Consap will transfer payment through methods such as a bank transfer or a banker’s draft.

What if you have moved or haven’t received bank notification about a dormant account?

First, you should contact the financial institution you think may hold an account to ascertain if you are the owner of a dormant account. Secondly, you should notify the financial institution regarding any change of residence. In effect, notification of a change of residence is sufficient to reactivate a dormant account.

I’ve received a letter from the bank but, the dormant account owner has passed away. 

In this case, it is important to remember that not only the owner of a dormant account can reactivate it. An executor can also do this. If there is no executor, beneficiaries should notify the financial institution of their entitlement to succeed to the deceased’s account. Beneficiaries should present the owner’s death certificate with Italian probate and succession documents.

What if there is more than one dormant account at the same bank?

Owners don’t have to reactivate all their dormant accounts. Reactivating one account is sufficient. For example, if there is a dormant current account and a dormant deposit account, reactivating one will make both active.

Finally …

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 property, 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 anything, you can reach us here for a free consultation.

Accepting Or Renouncing Italian Inheritance

Inheriting an Italian estate

Under Italian inheritance law, beneficiaries not only inherit a share of the deceased’s estate, they are also liable for any debts. If debts exceed the value of assets, heirs may choose to waive their inheritance. In this article, we discuss renouncing or accepting Italian inheritance.

How does accepting an Italian inheritance work?

The beneficiary can accept to be an heir expressly or tacitly. In either case, the beneficiary must accept within 10 years from the opening of the succession process. 

When the beneficiary declares to accept the status of heir they need a notarial or a private deed. 

When someone acts in such a way that the acceptance can be implied or inferred it is referred to as Tacit acceptance

The acceptance can also be reserved. This way, the successor reserves the right to accept or renounce an Italian inheritance until such times as they are able to ascertain whether debts or liabilities on the assets exceed the value of the property the beneficiary is inheriting. In this way, the heir is able to discharge themselves from paying any outstanding debts by renouncing an inheritance in favour of creditors and legatees.

Usually, an heir renounces an inheritance if the decedent’s debts exceed the value of the assets. The heir must pay the decedent’s debts up to the value of the property they inherit.

Renouncing an Italian inheritance

For the beneficiary to renounce an Italian inheritance they must make a  statement in front of a Notary Public or at the chancery of the court where they opened the succession procedure (“volontaria giurisdizione” section). The Notary Public or the court clerk then record a renouncement.  The beneficiary must renounce within 10 years of the opening of an Italian succession procedure.

Finally …

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have published a Guide to Italian Inheritance, which we hope you will find useful. 

If you are a beneficiary to an Italian inheritance, it is always advisable to consult a competent independent professional. A lawyer can provide information about debts and charges on inherited assets. A lawyer will also provide advice regarding renouncing or accepting Italian inheritance. This way you can make an informed decision about how to proceed. 

Each case is different so, if you would like to contact us for a free consultation about your Italian inheritance matter, please get in touch.