“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).
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.