Tag Archive for: Italian Probate Lawyer

Italian Estate Tax

Italian estate tax (imposta di successione)

Although the government abolished Italian estate tax in 2001, it subsequently reintroduced it in 2006.

Italian estate tax is therefore applicable to succession cases prior to October 25, 2001 and those from October 3, 2006 onwards.

In order to comply with the fiscal rules of inheritance law, heirs need, in the first instance, to file a statement of succession with the Italian tax authorities.

Who is liable for Italian estate tax?

If the deceased was resident in Italy at the time of death, Italian Inheritance Tax applies to the deceased’s worldwide assets. However, if the deceased lived outside Italy, Italian estate tax is only payable on assets located in Italy.

Of course, in order to prevent issues with double taxation, Italy has a number of cross border taxation arrangements in place, including with the UK and the USA.

Unity of inheritance

Italian inheritance law is based on the principle of ‘unity of inheritance’. To clarify this, the law of the country of last domicile deals with any movable assets. Movable assets could, for instance be furniture, cars, jewellery, works of art, bank and post office current accounts, money, investments such as shares, bonds, trust and managed funds. For immovable assets the law of the country where they are located is applicable. Examples of immovable assets include houses, shops, buildings, agricultural or building land.

How does Italian estate tax work?

In terms of payments, Italian estate tax appears less onerous compared to some other EU Member States. It is nevertheless complex.

In effect, Italian estate tax applies to the net value of the deceased’s estate. This therefore, includes not only movable but also immovable assets.

In addition, equity in non-family businesses and shareholdings in companies are taxable. However, there are exceptions to this.

Indeed, because the range of taxable assets is so broad, it is important to review the balance of ownership of your assets in the above mentioned categories. Above all, if you have children or you stand to inherit assets from an Italian estate.

It may moreover, also be worthwhile considering property ownership changes to protect your assets. In addition, some careful estate planning for the transfer of assets within the family is crucial.

Italian estate Tax on property

As far as a property is concerned, it is important to bear in mind the income value of Italian real estate property. This is calculated on the capitalised cadastral annuity.

In order to ascertain the cadastral value of a property, re-evaluation coefficients are as follows.

– Agricultural land: €112,50

– Buildings – Cat. C/1 and E: € 42,84

– Buildings – Cat. A/10 and D: €63,00

– Buildings – Cat. B: €147,00

– Other buildings: €126,00

– Habitable buildings, primary residences and relative appurtenances: €115,50

Depending on the relationship to the deceased and the category of assets, tax is applied proportionally to individual heirs or legatees.

The table below summarises quotas and exemptions from inheritance tax relating to Italian real estate property.

BENEFICIARY INHERITANCE TAX ASSET CATEGORY REGISTRATION TAX CADASTRAL TAX
Spouse, civil partner and/or Children Value of assets & rights: 4%

Below €1 million value, tax-exempt.

Primary Residence

Other property

Other assets

€200

2%

€ 168

1%

Siblings Value of assets & rights: 6%

Below €1 million value, tax-exempt.

Primary Residence

Other property

Other assets

€200

2%

€ 168

1%

4th Degree Relative Value of assets & rights: 6% Primary Residence

Other property

Other assets

€200

2%

€ 168

1%

Other Value of assets & rights: 8% Primary Residence

Other property

Other assets

€200

2%

€ 168

1%

Furthermore, in accordance with the Italian Disabilities Act, the threshold from which disabled beneficiaries are liable for inheritance tax is €1.5 million.

Furthermore, quotas mentioned in the table above also apply to lifetime use (usufruct) of a property title deed.

Are there any exclusions from Italian inheritance tax?

As previously mentioned, according to Italian inheritance tax law, certain categories of assets are exempt from Italian inheritance tax. These include government bonds and unit linked whole of life insurance policies. Additionally, shareholdings in family businesses and certain charitable donations are exempt.

EU regulations 

Choice of law

In addition to Italian inheritance law, it is also worth mentioning EU succession regulations introduced in 2015.  In brief, these regulations provide testators with an opportunity to mitigate the Italian principle of unity of inheritance.

As a result of EU succession regulations, non-Italians who are resident in Italy can make a choice of law in their will. In other words, a testator can stipulate that they want the law of their own country, or nationality, to govern their Italian-based assets.

Furthermore, EU regulations do not restrict the choice of law to EU nationals resident in Italy. For example, a US national could nominate US law to apply to the succession of their property in Italy.

It should however be mentioned, that nominating a country law needs careful consideration. It would be prudent to seek advice before taking action. A testator needs to take in to account certain matters. These include foreign matrimonial regimes, usufruct, tax consequences, joint ownership structures and other foreign proprietary rights with respect to an estate.

European Certificate of Succession

In order to facilitate cross border successions, an additional benefit of the EU succession regulations is the European Certificate of Succession. While this document is issued by the relevant authority dealing with the succession, heirs, legatees, executors and administrators of an estate can use it to prove their status and thereby exercise their rights or powers in other EU Member States.

Finally …

As can be seen, Italian inheritance is a complex matter. While there are actions that you can take to mitigate the impact of Italian inheritance tax law on estates, 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 estate tax questions or if would like to discuss your situation.

You may also be interested in Inheritance Law and Taxes

 

 

Italian Inheritance Law Services

Your specialists for Italian inheritance services 

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm​ has been providing clients worldwide with clear-sighted Italian inheritance law services.

Roman law

Because Italian succession law is based on the principles of Roman Law, it provides some protection to close members of the family. This therefore partially limits the right of the testator to dispose of his/her own assets.

Testamentary Succession is defined as the assignment of hereditary assets in compliance with the wishes of the testator as set out in an Italian Will. Whereas, in the absence of a Will, inheritance is devolved following the principles of Legal Succession. In other words, where there is no will, succession law gives rights to a number of legitimate heirs. This means that certain heirs have the legal right to inherit a portion of the deceased’s estate.

Known as legitimate, reserved or forced heirs, these beneficiaries are the spouse or registered partner of the deceased. Thereafter, beneficiaries include relatives identified by law as those closest to the deceased. For instance, children, parents and relatives up to the 6th degree of connection.

Italian succession law reserves a significant quota of inheritance for these beneficiaries. Because they are defined as forced heirs, it means that a testator cannot exclude them from inheriting, even with a Will.

However, when drafting an Italian will, the testator is free to dispose of a part of his assets known as the, “disposable quota”. This allows the testator to assign part of their assets to non‐relatives or organisations such as charities.

Our Italian inheritance law services

– Italian inheritance rights assessment

– Drafting Italian Wills

– Claiming / recovering inherited Italian property

– Italian property, titles, records searches

– Legal support for the sale of inherited Italian properties

– Obtaining appraisal and or a survey of inherited Italian property

– Determining Italian inheritance tax

– Obtaining copies of public Wills

– Challenging Wills drafted in conflict with the Italian legislation

– Managing Italian probate

– Registering inherited property in the name of heirs

– Obtaining release of inherited funds deposited in Italian banks

Read more about our Inheritance Services.

Finally …

If the deceased was resident in Italy at the time of death, Italian Inheritance Tax applies to the deceased’s worldwide assets. However, if the deceased lived outside Italy, Italian estate tax is only payable on assets located in Italy.

If you own assets in Italy, we recommend that you draft an Italian Will. And, if you need help with Italian estate planning, we can support you.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise with managing cross border succession and estate planning matters throughout Italy. We offer a full range of Italian inheritance law services. In addition, our firm is also a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.

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

If we can be of assistance, please get in touch at: info@detulliolawfirm.com

 

You may also be interested in our inheritance videos.

 

Reserved Acceptance – Italian Inheritance

Debts on an Italian inheritance

Accepting an Italian inheritance also implies taking on responsibility for any debts the decedent leaves. Heirs risk having to paying any debts they inherit from their own pockets. For this reason, Italian law confers a choice of whether to renounce or accept an inheritance. There is however, also a third way to mitigate risks: reserved acceptance. To illustrate the concept of reserved acceptance, below we provide a brief case study on this matter.

Silvia and Eric Jones owned a property in Liguria and were resident in Italy for many years. Sadly, in close succession, Silvia and Eric died.

The Jones’ sons, Larry and Tom, got in touch with De Tullio Law Firm about their parents’ Italian Wills. They had concerns regarding what happens when heirs are unsure exactly what they are inheriting. Larry and Tom believed that their parents had a lot of debts. They worry they will have to pay these debts if they accept the inheritance.

Because heirs have the possibility to accept an inheritance using reserved acceptance – “beneficio d’inventario”, it means that Larry and Tom will only be liable to pay their parents’ debts on any sum they inherit.

What is reserved acceptance?

If you are an heir, but you are unsure whether the inheritance contains more liabilities than assets, you can use, “beneficio d’inventario” (reserved acceptance). This avoids any merger between your estate and the decedent’s. Thus you will not be liable to pay off the decedent’s debts with your own money.

If, for example, you inherit €10,000, compared to a debt of €20,000, you will only be liable to pay the debt on the sum you have inherited, namely the €10,000.

Reserved acceptance is however not a good idea if an heir is certain that liabilities outweigh inherited assets (unless the heir wishes to pay debts in order to honour the decedent’s memory). Where certainty of debt exists, renouncing the inheritance is a more appropriate solution.

It is worth mentioning that certain people have to accept an inheritance through “beneficio d’inventario”. These people include minors under the age of eighteen, people in care and legal entities, including the State, associations and foundations.

How does reserved acceptance work?

You need a notarial deed for reserved acceptance. Alternatively, you can make a declaration to a clerk of the court in the district where the decdent had their last domicile.

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.

If you are unsure about any aspect of an Italian inheritance, please contact us. We will be happy to provide you with more detailed information.

Italian inheritance lawyers. What is their role?

What are Italian inheritance lawyers?

Specialist Italian inheritance lawyers assist with the execution of wills and the complex legal procedures relating to Italian inheritance issues.

How can Italian inheritance lawyers help?

Engaging the services of a specialist inheritance lawyer in Italy simplifies the administration of an estate. This includes gathering all the documentation relating to property, assets and/or land. It speeds up the whole inheritance process, from identification and location of beneficiaries entitled to the estate to tax payments and distribution of assets.

An Italian inheritance lawyer can help draft certified translations of documents, appoint a local notary and manage all required procedures with the relevant Italian authorities to ensure that assets are transferred to the names of the entitled beneficiaries.

Furthermore, an Italian inheritance lawyer can advise whether there are any claims or rights on assets and/or properties according to Italian Inheritance law. A lawyer can conduct searches for properties, titles, deeds and records, obtain an appraisal or a survey of a property with the support of qualified professionals to appraise the value of the deceased’s estate and determine whether there are any debts and liabilities.

Moreover, they can provide advice regarding the procedures for accepting or renouncing an inheritance and the options available to beneficiaries according to Italian law.

A lawyer will provide legal support if you need to:

– obtain a copy of a public will;

– challenge a will drafted in conflict with Italian legislation in the Italian Courts;

– manage the whole administration process;

– register an inherited property in the name of the heir(s) or;

– if the heir(s) choose to sell inherited properties and or assets.

Italian Inheritance fiscal and financial matters

Italian inheritance lawyers can also help determine taxation connected with an inheritance.

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.

Basic estate tax in Italy, “Imposta sulle Successioni” equates to 8% of the estate. However, estate tax rates depend on the relationship of the beneficiary to the deceased.

Where an estate includes bank accounts connected to an inheritance case, an Italian inheritance lawyer can help release accounts.

In addition, a lawyer can ensure the correct distribution of funds to beneficiaries.

Finally …

For more detailed guidance about Italian inheritance, you might find our Guide helpful.

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have over 55 years of expertise managing cross border succession and estate planning matters. Our multilingual team is present 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 a case with us, please contact us for a free consultation.

You may also like our inheritance video guides.

Searching for An Italian Will

Where there’s a will …

Clients often engage the De Tullio law Firm team when they need assistance with winding-up an estate in Italy. Occasionally, we receive instruction to administer an estate where executors or beneficiaries have been searching for an Italian will, but are unable to locate it.

Sometimes, there may be a copy, but heirs cannot find the original. For example, the deceased may have told relatives that they had a will but, the heirs cannot find it amongst the deceased’s belongings.

Winding-up an Italian estate cannot begin until we find the original version of a last will. If a will doesn’t come to light, the decedent is intestate, in which case the State will decide how to divide the estate.

Types of Italian will

In Italy, we have three main types of will. The simplest type of will is a Holographic Will (Testamento Olografo). For this to be legally valid, the testator must hand write the document, date and sign it. No witnesses are necessary. It can either be deposited with a lawyer, notary or, be kept by the testator.

Then there is a Formal Will (Testamento Pubblico). A notary draws up the will upon the testator’s instructions. It requires a witness and is deposited with a notary until the testator’s death.

Thirdly, a Sealed or Secret Will (Testamento Segreto). This is hand written by the testator, placed in a sealed envelope and deposited with a notary until the testator’s death.

All three types of will must be in Italian to comply with Italian civil code. To avoid potentially significant difficulties following death of a testator, we recommend engaging a lawyer to assist you. In addition, we advise getting your will translated into your own language. This will avoid any potentially costly misinterpretation of your wishes later on.

Where to start searching for an Italian will?

If you believe someone had a will deposited with a notary, you can submit a request accompanied by the death certificate to the District Chamber of Notaries (Consiglio Notarile distrettuale). This organisation will forward a search request to all notaries within the area where the deceased was resident.

Searching for an Italian will at the General Will Registry

It is also advisable to submit a request to the General Will Register. This is part of the main notarial archive office which retains deeds and Wills deposited by notaries who have ceased business operations.

The General Will Registry Bureau (Registro Generale dei Testamenti) headquarters are at the Main Office of the Notary Archives (Ufficio Centrale degli Archivi Notarili) in Rome.

Through the General Will Registry Bureau you can find out if the deceased had a will in Italy or abroad. The Bureau can submit a request for a decedent’s will to the relevant authorities abroad if they are signatories to the International Basel Convention. Other than Italy, the countries which have signed the Basel Convention are: Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine.

The General Will Registry holds the following records:

– Formal wills

– Sealed / Secret wills

– Holographic wills, formally held by a notary

– Publication of Holographic Wills, whether or not deposited with a notary

– Withdrawal of all types of will, formally deposited with a notary

– Suspension of previous arrangements by means of a new will

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.

If you need any assistance searching for an Italian Will, please get in touch.

If you are looking for further information about the Italian inheritance process, you might find our comprehensive Italian Inheritance Guide helpful.

 

What Is An Avvocato? Frequently Asked Questions

What does avvocato mean?

The Italian word, avvocato, has three main equivalent terms in English: lawyer, solicitor, attorney.

How long does it take to become an avvocato?

What is an Avvocato?

Left: Giandomenico De Tullio. Managing Partner. Right Giovanni De Tullio. Founding Partner. De Tullio Law Firm.

The path to becoming an avvocato in Italy involves several years of study and internships.

Firstly, future lawyers need to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in law, (Laurea in Scienze Giuridiche), which takes three years.

Secondly, to proceed along the path towards practising law, students require a two-year post-graduate degree (Laurea Specialistica in Giurisprudenza) or, a further five-year Master’s Degree (Laurea a ciclo unico Magistrale in Giurisprudenza).

Thirdly, after attaining the aforementioned qualifications, an avvocato needs to complete a two-year internship at an established law firm.

Finally, in order to practice law, an avvocato must pass the Italian Bar Exam. After registering with the Italian Law Society (Consiglio dell’Ordine degli Avvocati), Italian lawyers can practice Italian law wherever they choose in Italy.

What is an Italian attorney’s scope of legal practice?

The legal competencies of a qualified avvocato are wide-ranging. They comprise all areas of the law: civil, criminal, labour, bankruptcy, financial, administrative, inheritance and succession cases. In addition an avvocato handles court trials and appeals.

Is an Italian avvocato subject to a code of conduct?

A strict ethical code of conduct governs an Italian avvocato and the performance of their duties. Firstly, Italian attorneys must base their conduct on respect for integrity, dignity and decorum. Failure to comply with this ethical code of conduct leads to disciplinary proceedings.

The legal profession demands honesty and integrity. It is not permissible for an Italian attorney to start a legal action or take part in a proceeding, which may be construed as acting in bad faith.

Secondly, the Italian legal code of conduct safeguards the client. An Italian avvocato has a duty of care and loyalty towards a client. An Italian attorney behaving contrary to clients’ interests, or taking on a case that they are not competent to conduct, would be a breach of this code of conduct.

Does client confidentiality exist in the Italian legal profession?

Yes. Another fundamental duty for an Italian attorney is confidentiality. On the one hand this regards the provision of services to a client. On the other hand it pertains to any information given to a lawyer by the client, or which becomes known to the lawyer. Confidentiality remains valid for information about former clients, or where the attorney, despite knowing the details of a case, does not agree to take on a case.

The relationship between an Italian attorney and a client is fundamentally based on trust; an attorney must defend a client’s interests as well as possible within the framework of legal representation and in compliance with the law and the ethical principles of the legal code of conduct.

Finally …

At De Tullio Law Firm, we have extensive knowledge and experience of Italian and international law. For over 55 years, we have been providing expert legal services throughout Italy. Whatever your legal need in Italy, get in touch with us for a free consultation.

You may also be interested in De Tullio Law Firm: celebrating 55 years in practice.

 

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 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.