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.
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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.
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.