Tag Archive for: Tax Planning

What is a Biotestamento (Living Will)?

A living will, biotestamento, allows a person to make decisions about medical treatment

Biotestamento legislation in Italy is in two parts.

The first, more general part, deals with giving informed consent on medical treatments. The second part of the law specifically provides for a number of DATs (disposizioni anticipate di trattamento).

What are biotestamento DATs?

DATs allow a person to indicate wishes in relation to medical treatments in the event s/he is no longer conscious due to an accident or illness.

Every adult over the age of 18 years old, of sound mind, who does not expect to be capable of self-determination in the future, may make use of DATs. By filling in the relevant paperwork, a person expresses his/her wishes relating to medical treatments. These include consent or refusal of artificial hydration and feeding.

DATs are legally binding on medical staff unless they are manifestly inappropriate or non-compliant with the patient’s current medical condition or new therapies have become available since the person signed DATs.

DATs must be in the form of a notarised deed or as a certified private instrument.

Informed consent

The law on Biotestamento protects a person’s right to life, health, dignity and self-determination. It stipulates that no medical treatment may start or continue without the patient’s freely given and informed consent. All patients have the right to know their health conditions. Furthermore, they must receive exhaustive, up to date and comprehensible information about the diagnosis, prognosis, benefits and risks of diagnostic tests and of prescribed medical treatments. In addition patients have a right to understand any alternative treatments available and the consequences connected with refusal of treatment.

Possible interruption of artificial feeding and hydration

Every adult, over the age of 18 years old, of mind, has the right to fully or partially refuse any treatment or to revoke consent for treatment at any time. Feeding and hydration are comparable to medical treatments. It is therefore possible to refuse them or request that they stop.

Refusal of treatment and conscientious objection by doctors

The patient has the right to refuse medical care. Doctors can however conscientiously object to this. Therefore, if a patient refuses medical care and a doctor deems this will cause death, a doctor is under no professional obligation to fulfil the patient’s wishes. The patient, however, may turn to another doctor working in the same hospital or healthcare facility.

Futile medical care and deep sedation

A doctor must endeavour to alleviate a patient’s suffering. Even if the patient has refused to grant or withdrawn his/her consent to medical care. Where there is a short life expectancy or imminent death prognosis, the doctor must, however, abstain from unreasonably persisting in dispensing medical care. In case of illnesses resistant to medical treatments, with the patient’s consent, the doctor may resort to continuous deep palliative sedation associated with pain therapy.

Psychological support

Should the patient decide to revoke or refuse medical care, the doctor must inform the patient of the consequences associated with this decision. The doctor must also inform the patient about any possible alternative treatments. In addition, medical staff should promote all actions to support the patient, including psychological support services.

Minors and disabled persons

In order that they can express their wishes, minors and disabled persons must receive all information in an appropriate manner. Informed consent on medical treatments for minors is contingent on consent or refusal by the parents or legal guardian. However, the patient’s wishes must also be considered.

Fiduciaries

A patient may also appoint someone to represent them in all relations with doctors and medical facilities.

Finally …

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

If you need any advice regarding living wills or last wills, we are here to help. Please get in touch with us.

 

 

EU Succession Rules Harmonise Cross-Border Inheritance

In 2015, the EU introduced new succession rules to simplify cross-border inheritance matters

To benefit from the new EU succession rules, overseas nationals with assets in an EU Member State need to take action in a will.

According to The European Commission some 450,000 cross-border successions occur in the EU each year. These are estimated to be worth in excess of €120 billion. Effective from August 17th 2015, to solve confusion and prevent disputes, the EU introduced new EU succession rules. These rules allow individuals across participating EU member states to choose which country jurisdiction to apply to the devolution of their estate.

Forced heirship

Many countries in the EU, including Italy, have laws governing ‘forced heirship’. Forced heirship rules are similar to UK Intestacy rules. However, forced heirship is applicable even if there is a will. The key point is that Italian forced heirship rules take precedence over a will.

In practice, this means that close family members inherit the deceased’s property regardless of the contents of the deceased’s will. This can often be in preference to the deceased’s spouse or partner. Sometimes, this creates conflicts within families who are unfamiliar with forced heirship cultures. Particularly  if the deceased had children from previous relationships. According to Italian forced heirship rules, these children must also inherit a share of their deceased parent’s estate.

EU Regulation 650/2012 is also known as Brussels IV

The UK did not opt into Brussels IV when it was still a member of the EU. However, UK nationals with assets in EU countries that adopted the changes, which is all of them except for Ireland and Denmark, can take advantage of Brussels IV.

Brussels IV allows any overseas national who owns property in a participating EU member state to choose either the law of the country of their habitual residence, or the law of their nationality to govern succession of their EU estate. Or, if they have multiple nationalities, they can choose one of their nationalities to govern succession.

Electing a country law provides a way to circumvent forced heirship laws.

EU succession rules allow you to elect a country law in your will

If for example you are a UK national habitually resident in England with a holiday home in Italy. You can now update your English will with a choice of law codicil. This would cover the Italian property with an election for the inheritance laws of England and Wales to apply to it. It means you don’t need a separate Italian will for the Italian  holiday home.

That said, it is highly advisable to have either a bilingual Italian will or an official Italian translation of your English will.  Preferably, the translated version would be in the hands of a solicitor or notary. This will make things easier, less time-consuming and costly in the long run for the executor of your estate.

Before taking action, it’s important to understand all the implications of the EU succession rules

Before making any changes to your will, it is important to understand Brussels IV and all its implications. For example, Brussels IV does not impact inheritance tax.

As previously mentioned, Brussels IV is applicable to all foreign property owners. However, if you are habitually resident in Italy it is essential that you make or update your will in Italian. In your Italian will, you should clearly state which country’s law you wish to elect. Otherwise, because you are resident in Italy, the laws of Italy will automatically apply when dealing with succession. Again, it is important to understand the Brussels IV regulation and its impact.

Interestingly, Brussels IV does not restrict the choice of law to EU nationals. For example, a US national with property in a participating EU Member State could elect for US law to apply to the succession of their property; an Australian could nominate Australian law; a Canadian, Canadian law, and so on.

Finally …

As ever, the key is in the planning. If you want freedom of choice, you have it. Just don’t leave it until it’s too late!

Cross-border inheritance law is a complex matter. We recommend you seek independent legal advice regarding your personal situation. 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. If you need advice, help or have any questions on cross-border inheritance matters, please get in touch.