Why is it worth drafting an Italian Will?
Be sure to prevent any problem!
It is generally recommended that foreign citizens owning assets in Italy draft an Italian Will. This will prevent significant difficulties that heirs might experience when transferring the ownership of Italian properties originally registered in the name of the testator. Under Italian law, all foreign Wills must be authenticated by an Italian Public Notary before going through the Italian probate process.
Although, generally speaking, Italy recognises the validity of international Wills, it is advisable for non-Italian citizens to draft an Italian Will if you own property on Italian territory (house or land). Managing documents drafted in a foreign language (and governed by different legal jurisdictions) in Italy can raise a number of difficulties. As a matter of fact, the Notary will not publish or legalise documents drafted in a foreign language unless they have been translated into Italian by a certified and qualified translator. Read more
The majority of Britons have not written a Will, according to research from the Law Society.
The representative body for solicitors has now warned that the consequences of dying without a valid will can be dire for those left behind.
The research revealed that 73 per cent of 16-54 year olds don’t have a Will, while 64 per cent of people over the age of 55 have made their final wishes clear in a will. The research also found that men are more likely to have a Will and keep it updated than women. Read more
Cross-Border Inheritance Law. How Does New EU Succession Legislation Impact You?
This article looks at the new EU Law 650/2012, also known as the Brussels IV Regulation, which came in to effect on 17th August 2015.
Although the UK, Denmark and Ireland have opted out of participating in Brussels IV, there are still implications for nationals of these countries who reside in a participating EU Member State or have a connection to a participating EU Member State, for example a holiday home.
Prior to the introduction of Brussels IV, each EU jurisdiction applied its own rules to govern the devolution of individuals’ property. For individuals with assets in more than one country, various Connecting Factors were considered such as domicile, residence, nationality or habitual residence, in order to determine which country laws should apply to an individual’s estate. In addition, for some EU states, applicable succession law depended upon whether the assets were immovable (property and land) or movable (bank accounts, vehicles, furniture, jewellery and so on). The fact that each jurisdiction applied different Connecting Factors often led to costly, lengthy and complex conflicts of laws. Read more
Inheritance matters. There is a gentle parody currently doing the rounds. Allegedly, the late lamented Italian novelist, philosopher and interpretive semiotician Umberto Eco has left a Will that neither his lawyers nor beneficiaries can decipher.
Obviously a Will should be accurate, concise and straightforward. Even if your life is highly complex, an experienced lawyer should be able to make sense of your legacies. Read more
About 26,000 British nationals are registered in Italy, according to Italy’s National Institute of Statistics. The British embassy in Rome believes the true number of British residents in Italy is double that.
A significant fear for those concerned about Britain leaving the EU is the potential mass exodus of both Europeans and Britons from each other’s respective nations. In 2015, former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve claimed that: “… EU exit would make 2 million Britons abroad illegal immigrants overnight.” Read more
Action should be taken now to benefit from the new 2015 European Inheritance Rules. According to The European Commission some 450,000 cross-border successions occur in the EU each year, estimated to be worth in excess of €120 billion. As it stands, many countries in the EU, including Italy, have laws governing ‘forced heirships’ along with different opinions as to whether inheritance is dealt with under local law, or the law of the nationality of the deceased. To somewhat solve this confusion and prevent disputes, effective August 17th 2015 new rules will allow individuals across participating EU member states to choose which country jurisdiction will apply to the devolution of estates. Read more
What are the principles at the basis of Italian inheritance law?
The law n.218 of the 31st of May 1995 regulates the field of Italian inheritance law in the framework of international private law.
The succession rules are determined on the basis of the national law of the deceased party at the moment of his death.
The Italian legislator adopted the principle of “unity of inheritance”. This principle differs substantially from the one adopted in common law countries. It is based on the separation between non-property assets and property assets: to non-property assets the law of the last domicile or last citizenship of the deceased party is applicable, and to property assets the so called “lex rei sitae” (law of the country where the property is located). One of the most important consequences is that, if the hereditary asset includes properties located in different states, the succession of each single property could be regulated by the law of the country where the property is located.
The law regulating the succession is the national law of the deceased at the time of his death. The Italian rules on conflict of laws consider the possibility that the national law of a deceased foreigner might defer to the law of another country. Such deferment is effective only if the law of the third State accepts the deferment. Here is a practical example: if a British citizen before his death left some properties in Italy, the succession will be regulated by the British law. But following the British “conflict law” the law applicable to properties should be the “lex rei sitae (law of the country where the property is located), that is/viz., the Italian inheritance law.
The testator has the right to submit his succession to the law of the country where he resides. Such choice has to be formally expressed in a will and shall not be prejudicial of the rights that the Italian law provides for the so called legittimari” ( members of the family who have the right to receive a fixed part of the property of the deceased even against the will) who are resident in Italy at the moment of death of the deceased.
It is highly advisable to draft an Italian will assisted by your Italian inheritance lawyer in order to limit the consequences of the “legal succession”. The “legal succession” applies where the deceased has not left a will, in such case the Italian law determines which relatives of the deceased have a right to succeed (primarily the spouse, the legitimate and natural children, and the ascendants). In case of lack of heirs, according to the Italian inheritance law, the hereditary assets present in Italy would be assigned to the Italian State.
Please note, any statement made in this article is intended to be a general practical introductory explanation only and not formal legal advice. This firm accepts no liability or any responsibility for any statement made.