Replacing an heir to an Italian inheritance
Representation rights pertain to a descendant replacing an ascendant. This happens if the latter is unable or unwilling to accept an inheritance or legacy.
Representation rights depend on two factors. Firstly, the ascendant, who does not wish, or is unable, to succeed, must have a legal entitlement to the inheritance in question. Secondly, in the case of testamentary succession, where the testator has made no other provisions which prevail over rights of representation.
How do Italian representation rights work?
Representation takes place whenever someone with an entitlement to an inheritance is unable or unwilling to inherit. Unwilling, means the beneficiary does not accept the inheritance or renounces it. Unable, means that the beneficiary dies before a succession process or is unfit to inherit or has lost the right to accept.
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Through representation, legitimate or natural descendants replace the beneficiary unwilling or unable to succeed. If, for example, a child dies before his/her father, the father’s other children, and the predeceased child’s children are entitled to inherit the deceased child’s part of the inheritance. These heirs therefore receive the quota which their ascendant would have received.
Representation takes place:
-In a direct line, known as lineal consanguinity. This is where legitimate, legitimised, adopted or natural children become co-heirs.
-In collateral relationships, known as collateral consanguinity. These would be descendants of the deceased’s brothers and sisters who become co-heirs.
When are representation rights not applicable?
Representation does not apply unless the person replaced in succession is a descendant. For example, a sister of the deceased can make a representation but, not her husband. Likewise, representation cannot occur if, in testamentary succession, the testator has already indicated in a Will what should happen in the case an entitled beneficiary is unwilling or unable to accept an inheritance.
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.
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