Tag Archive for: Italian Probate Solicitor Italian Solicitor

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.

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.

Testamentary Succession in Italy: Italian Inheritance Law

Close family members take precedence in Italian inheritance

Testamentary succession is determined in accordance with the provisions of a lawful will and the applicable rules of law

In Italy, the disposal of an estate occurs in compliance with the decisions of the testator as set out in an Italian will. Or, where the deceased was intestate, i.e the deceased did not have a will, in accordance with Italian inheritance law.

Italian inheritance law dates back to the Roman Law tradition. Because of this, testamentary succession in Italy follows the principle that a decedent’s close family members merit special protection. This therefore partially limits the right of the testator to dispose of assets entirely as s/he wishes.

Testamentary succession and foreign wills

Following the death of a testator with an Italian will, the competent authorities register and publish the will. However, in the case of foreign wills, Italian law states that an Italian Public Notary must authenticate the will before probate can begin.

Managing testamentary succession documents drafted in a foreign language and subject to a foreign jurisdiction in Italy can present difficulties. In fact, a notary cannot publish or legalise a will drafted in a foreign language. The notary will therefore require an Italian translation. You will need to engage a court-sworn translator to translate the will. Costs for this may be substantially higher than drafting an Italian will in the first place.

Drafting a will in Italian minimises the risk of conflicts among heirs following the death of the testator. It also ensures that the Italian authorities have a clear and direct understanding of the legal framework.

The exclusion of certain heirs from testamentary succession in Italy

As mentioned above, one of the principles of Italian legal succession is the protection of the family. Whether you die with or without a will, you cannot exclude some heirs from the succession.

Italian law calls these forced heirs. They must receive a part of the deceased’s assets. This is known as the reserved quota. Italian Civil Code also determines what quota of assets a testator can freely dispose of, without limitation. This is known as the available quota. 

Forced heirs, reserved and available quotas in Italy

The table below  shows the reserved quota for forced heirs and the available quota dependent on relationship to the deceased:

Forced heirs Reserved quotas and availability
Spouse (or registered partnership) (in the absence of children and parents) 1/2 to the spouse (or registered partner) = 1/2 available quota
One child (in the absence of a spouse or registered partnership) 1/2 to the child = 1/2 available quota
Two or more children (in the absence of a spouse or registered partnership) 2/3 to children (divided into equal parts) = 1/3 available quota
Spouse (or registered partnership) and only one child 1/3 to the spouse (or registered partnership) 1/3 to the child = 1/3 available quota
Spouse (or registered partnership) and two or more children 1/4 to the spouse (or registered partnership)  1/2 to children (divided in equal parts) = 1/4 available quota
Spouse (or registered partnership) and parents (in the absence of children) 1/2 to the spouse (or registered partnership)  1/4 to parents (divided into equal parts) = 1/4 available quota
Parents (in the absence of children and spouse or registered partnership) 1/3 (divided into equal parts) = 2/3 available quota
If there is a Will, the law reserves a quota of inheritance only for the spouse (or registered partner) and children (if the deceased had no children there is a reserved quota for parents who are still living), so if the Will is valid, other relatives cannot make claims.  

Applicable laws

It is also worth mentioning that non-Italian nationals may be subject to the testamentary succession laws of their own country. 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.

For foreign nationals resident in Italy, the introduction of EU Succession Regulations, known as Brussels IVmay also impact how you manage your testamentary succession. 

Finally …

Italian 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 Italian succession and inheritance, 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 throughout Italy. We are a full member of STEP, the world’s leading association for trust and estate practitioners.  

You may also be interested in Legitimate Heirs. Rights of “Forced Heirs” in Italian Inheritance

Italian Assets. Preparing for The Future

Thinking long term about Italian assets

Do you, or your family, own Italian assets? Are you thinking of buying a property in Italy? If so, it is advisable to research and prepare for the future of those Italian assets. You may like to watch our short video on this subject.

Inheritance and probate laws vary from country to country. Italian assets will not be subject to the same laws as your assets at home. 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.

The succession process following the death of a loved one can become complicated and stressful. When you need to consider assets abroad it can also become frustrating and costly.

EU Regulations

In 2015 a new EU regulation came into force. Known as Brussels IV, this regulation aims to facilitate cross border succession. 

Brussels IV enables a testator with assets abroad to choose which country’s law will govern their will. In addition, it introduced a European Certificate of Succession (ECS). Heirs, legatees, executors of wills and administrators of the estate can use an ECS to prove their status and exercise their rights or powers in other EU Member States.

Brussels IV also offers potential benefits for non-EU nationals. Again appropriate action needs to be taken in the form of a choice of law clause in a will. For example, US nationals could nominate US law to apply to the succession of their property in Italy. An Australian with property in Spain could nominate Australian law. A Canadian citizen with property in France could elect Canadian law, and so on.

The country where the deceased was habitually resident determines the way Italian assets are handled

With or without a will, applicable laws and processes vary. For instance, in Italy, a public notary must authenticate a will before probate can commence.

If the testator did not draft an Italian will, a sworn translation of international wills is necessary. Because the testator is no longer around, a translation of a will can create issues and misunderstandings during the probate process. Having separate wills in the countries where you have assets is therefore the best method to prevent problems after your death.

If no will exists, the situation can become very complex for heirs. It is advisable to enlist the help of a specialist lawyer in Italy to manage the succession of Italian assets. If you would like more detailed information about the Italian succession process, you find our Guide to Italian Inheritance helpful.

If you own Italian assets or, you are a beneficiary of an Italian inheritance, it is always advisable to seek legal advice. A lawyer will be in a position to provide useful information about tax liabilities on Italian assets. In addition, a lawyer will also be able to provide information about the rights and responsibilities of an heir. An experienced legal professional will be able to provide advice based on a comprehensive inventory of the assets in question. This will allow you to make an informed decision on how best to proceed.

Finally …

If you own Italian assets don’t put off estate planning because they think you do not own enough, you are not old enough, it will be costly or confusing, you will have plenty of time to do it later, you do not know where to begin or who can help you, or you 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 such as a property purchase in Italy.

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 cross border inheritance questions or if would like to discuss your situation.