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Italian inheritance law

For legal purposes, inheritance is the transfer of economic and real estate rights and duties of a person to his/her heirs, starting at the time of death. Italian inheritance law is entrenched on the Roman law tradition which hinges on the principle to give some protection to close members of the family known as “forced heirs” partially limiting the right of the testator to dispose of his/her own estate.

These close members who may include the spouse, the children (legitimate, illegitimate or adopted), ascendants, and other family members up to the sixth degree of kinship are automatically entitled to a share of the deceased’s assets at the time of death. In absence of all, the inheritance is devolved to the Italian State. These particular rules on forced heirship apply when the deceased is an Italian national or a foreigner with an Italian will.

It is worth keeping in mind that the death of a family member entails the need to take a series of actions, which may include: searching for a Will, making an inventory of the deceased’s assets, and establishing contact with the relevant competent authorities to complete the whole inheritance procedure.

In Italian law, there are two kinds of inheritance procedures which can be undertaken.

  1. Legitimate succession: ruled pursuant to the law regarding a lack of testamentary dispositions by the deceased
  2. Testamentary succession: determined in accordance with the dispositions contained in a lawful Will.

Relevance of an Italian will to inheritance

By making a Will you can decide what happens to your property and possessions after your death. If you die without a Will, your assets may be distributed according to the Italian law rather than your wishes. It is generally recommended to draft an Italian Will when one owns Italian real estate assets. This will prevent significant difficulties that heirs might experience when transferring the ownership of Italian properties.

By drafting an Italian Will the testator will minimize the risk of conflicts among the heir at death. Making a Will is the best way to make sure your estate is passed on to family and friends exactly as you wish and it also ensures that Italian authorities have a clear and direct understanding of the legal framework with regards to your asserts.

In order to be eligible to draft an Italian Will the testator should be at least 18 years and of a sound mind. After the death of the testator the Will must be published with the support of a public notary.

Italian inheritance tax was abolished in 2001 then consequently re-introduced by the Italian government. According to law heirs are required to pay Inheritance Tax when they present the declaration to the appropriate office.

Should you require further information, or if you have questions, please feel free to contact us at: info@studiosalata.eu

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For legal purposes, inheritance is the transfer of economic and real estate rights and duties of a person to his/her heirs, starting at the time of death. Italian inheritance law […]