Italian Succession and Probate. Inheritance Services in Italy

Under Italian inheritance Laws of Succession, an individual may dispose of his estate in Italy either by making a will (Testamento) or alternatively, the estate will be passed to the heirs under the provisions of statutory rules which provide for the deceased's relatives in varying proportions depending on how close the relationship to the deceased was.

Italian inheritance laws offer some degree of protection to family members, limiting the right of the testator (the person who makes a will and whose estate is to be inherited) to dispose of his own assets.

Legal Succession in Italy

Where a person dies without a valid will, Italian succession law has very clear provisions clearly outlining who is going to inherit and how much (Successione legittima). The Italian inheritance is devolved following the principles of the Italian Civil Code. The legitimate heirs of the deceased are the spouse, the children and the other relatives are identified by the law starting from the closer ones until the 6th degree of connection. Should the deceased have no heirs the estate is devolved to the Italian State in common with most countries.

Inheritance by Italian Will and rules of forced heirship

Giambrone's Italian probate team can assist the heirs in the first instance by ascertaining the validity of a will, secondly, our lawyers can deal with the formalities that are required to be complied with and calculate the taxes that are due to be paid (property transfer taxes and inheritance taxes, depending on the degree of connection with the deceased). Lastly, we will ensure that the will is implemented and the relevant assets are legally transferred to the beneficiaries, as heirs or legatees.

The principles of testamentary and legal succession cross with the principle of “forced heirship”: the Italian Civil Code reserves to very close relatives (spouse, ascendants and descendants defined as “forced heirs”) The Italian legal system relating to inheritance is designed to protect close family members – regardless of their nationality or place of residence preventing the testator from excluding them completely from the inheritance.

The rules of forced heirship in the Italian Civil Code are as follows:


Minimum Statutory Share

Only one child and no spouse:

50% of the Estate is reserved to the child

Two or more children no spouse:

66% reserved to the children in equal shares

Parents but no spouse and no children

33% of the Estate to the Parents

Only a surviving spouse

50% of the Estate is reserved to the spouse

A surviving spouse and a child:

33% to the spouse and 33% to the child

A surviving spouse and children:

25% to the spouse and 50% to the children

Surviving spouse and Parents but no child

50% is reserved the spouse and 25% to the Parents

In implementing the will of an Italian national, Italian law will also ensure that the immediate members of the deceased's family receive their minimum statutory share of the Estate (Quota di legittima) as set out above. The wish of the testator to assign his assets to strangers under Italian law is accepted but is restricted.
When drafting an Italian will the testator is free to dispose of a part of his assets defined as “disposable quota”. If a will infringes the minimum statutory shares that the legitimate the heirs are entitled to there is redress under the law and they may apply to the Italian courts. It should be noted that an Italian will infringing the rights of the “forced heirs” may not necessarily be invalid.
Such a will is enforceable, unless challenged in court, by the complainant “forced heirs” with a legal action called azione di riduzione (abatement legal action). Whatever the provisions in the will, the Italian courts will then re-distribute the assets of the estate in accordance with the rules outlined above.
Our Italian lawyers in the probate team will undertake the following on your behalf:
  • Obtain a copy of a public will;
  • Manage the entire probate process in compliance with the statutory provisions of Italian law
  • Assess the parties’ inheritance rights according to Italian law
  • Search for properties, titles, records throughout Italy
  • Assist with the transfer of family properties according to Italian inheritance law
  • Offer legal support for the sale of inherited properties, having obtained a preliminary survey of the inherited properties
  • Calculate the property transfer taxes and the IHT liabilities, if any, related to the inheritance in conjunction with an Italian accountant
  • Challenge in the Italian courts any will drafted in conflict with the Italian legislation
  • Register an inherited property in the name of the heirs
  • Obtain the release of funds deposited in a bank account in connection with an inheritance

Read more here: How to obtain Italian Grant of Probate under Italian inheritance

For more information on how Giambrone's wills and probate team can assist you please click here