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  • The Testamentary Succession

    by De Tullio Law Firm

    Italian inheritance law dates back to Roman Law in that close family members of the deceased are protected, therefore, partially limiting the right of the testator to dispose of his/her own assets entirely as he/she wishes.

    "Testamentary succession" is the assignment of hereditary assets (namely the "estate") of a deceased testator in compliance with the wishes of the testator as set out in an Italian Will. A Will represents the legal document drafted and signed by the deceased through which s/he wishes to dispose of his/her estate after his/her death. In the case of foreign Wills, the Italian Law requires that they must be authenticated by an Italian Public Notary before executing the probate. In order for a notary to legalize a document drafted in a foreign language, it must first be translated into Italian by a professional, qualified translator. The cost or which could be substantially higher than drafting a Will.

    If you decide to draft an Italian Will it will minimize possible conflicts with the Italian authorities as they will have a clear view of your wishes in relation to the legal framework. It will also minimize the conflicts among heirs and any possible misunderstandings they may have particularly if they are not familiar with the Italian language. Following the death of a testator with an Italian Will, the Will is registered and published by the competent Italian authorities.

    The main principles of the Italian legal succession is the protection of the family. As a result of this, some heirs cannot be excluded from the succession, these heirs are known as 'forced heirs', even in the case of testamentary succession. A part of the deceased's assets (reserved quota) must be assigned necessarily to forced heirs. Italian Civil Code determines exactly the inheritance quota available to the testator, that is to say which is the quota that he/she can dispose of without any limitation. Italian law reserves a quota of the inheritance to forced heirs, who are:

    a) Legitimate, natural, adopted children
    b) Married partner
    c) Legitimate ascendants (only in absence of children)

    Outlined below, the reserved quota and the available quota dependent on relationship to the deceased:

    Heirs Reserved quota (legitimate quota) Available quota
    Spouse 1/2 1/2
    Spouse + 1 child 1/3 spouse, 1/3 child 1/3
    Spouse + 2 or more children spouse, children 1/4
    Spouse and ascendants spouse, ascendants 1/4
    1 child 1/2 1/2
    2 or more children 2/3 1/3
    Ascendants 1/3 2/3
    Spouse, ascendants and brothers and sisters spouse, ascendants 1/4
    Spouse and brothers and sisters spouse 1/2
    Ascendants and brothers and sisters 1/3 ascendants 2/3
    Brothers and sisters   All assets

    A "Dichiarazione di Successione" (Statement of succession) must be submitted within one year of death regardless of through legitimate succession or testamentary succession. In the cases of non-Italian citizens problems frequently arise and so it is by far a more secure option to have an Italian Will drafted by a Legal Professional.

    Please note, any statement made in this article is intended to be a general practical introductory explanation only and not advice. This firm accepts no liability or any responsibility for any statement made.

    About the Author:

    De Tullio Law Firm is an international law firm specialized in Italian inheritance law and Italian cross border real estate transactions. Over the years, it has gained a wide experience in the real estate field, as well as providing assistance with wills & probates, EU law, litigation, taxes and corporate law.

    De Tullio Law Firm is listed on the British and American embassies websites, and contributes as legal expert with several publications.

    On our website you will find plenty of information about Italian property, as well as articles about Italian inheritance law and foreign married couples. On our sister site you will find detailed information about the Italian inheritance procedure. Our aim is to assist our clients in the best possible way by giving independent legal advice, and also to inform and educate our on-line visitors on the basics and beyond.


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