Foreign citizens can be subject to Italian inheritance laws when part of their inheritance is in Italy, they are resident in Italy or have dual citizenship. For the most part, Italian succession law applies when assets located in Italy are being disputed, and is a direct consequence of foreigners being affected by the provisions of the European Succession Regulation.
with a will
There are numerous legal limits for succession in Italy. First of all, Italian succession law entails the so-called “reserved quota” for immediate family members, i.e. the spouse and children (forced heirs) are entitled by law to a part of the inheritance. The testator (the person who has died leaving a will or testament in force) can decide which heirs receive what, but proportions of the reserved quota cannot vary.
without a will
This occurs when someone dies without a will and quotas for the immediate family members (spouse, children or even parents depending on the age of the testator) are predetermined by Italian inheritance laws.
Intestate Succession: Quotas established by the Civil Code
The regulation of Italian intestate succession can be found at Articles 565 to 586 of the Italian Civil Code. Heirs receive the inheritance according to the quotas established by the Civil Code, doing so through a communion of assets which amasses all assets, both movable and immovable. The same principle applies to hereditary rights and obligations (including debts).
Declaration of Succession
According to Italian Succession Law, when someone dies, heirs must submit a declaration of succession to the Agenzia delle Entrate within one year of the de cuius’ (the deceased person’s) death. If this is not submitted, they will be subject to incremental fines with each passing year. A declaration of succession is a compulsory document enabling the transfer of the assets of the de cuius to the heirs and through which the Agenzia delle Entrate calculates the taxes payable by the heirs.
Italian Inheritance Laws: The Ten-Year Rule
Based on the above, succession seems a relatively quick process. However, a successor might not be aware of the passing of the deceased. In this case, if none of the other heirs (who have accepted the inheritance) requests a deadline from the court, the successor theoretically has up to ten years to accept the inheritance. This ten-year deadline is mandatory (the Ten-Year Rule).
For our clients
Inheritance investigation is of the utmost importance when you believe you have unclaimed inheritance assets, or that someone has maliciously interfered with your part of the estate. An investigation discovers missing or misappropriated assets and gets the evidence you need to claim what is rightfully yours.
Services and Power of Attorney
We will carry out an investigation, request all the necessary information and write a Power of Attorney for you to sign. This will give us the power to act on your behalf, so you do not have to come to Italy. The attorneys at MY LAWYER IN ITALY® are licensed to represent you before any Court in Italy, through briefs, remote or in-person hearings in front of Italian judges.
Direct communication with Italian authorities
We will directly and constantly communicate with Italian authorities, such as banks and the Italian Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate), on your behalf from the start to the end of your case. We will also gather documents for you, such as the declaration of succession and Italian fiscal codes.
We can manage the estate on your behalf, by paying Italian municipal taxes, transfers of ownership and utilities, and by preparing your tax declaration, before and/or after the end of the case. We will also estimate the value of the inheritance fees you will have to pay at the beginning of the succession process and the valuation of your estate for the purpose of selling it, entering into a mediation etc.
Sale of property
Once your inheritance case is closed, we can also help you sell the property and eventually divide the proceeds between all the heirs. We will contact real estate agencies on your behalf to estimate the value of the property and run the negotiation; we will appoint notaries, technicians, engineers, and professionals; and we will search for documents for you, such as urban planning acts.
If you are a foreigner with properties located in Italy, determining how your assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed after your death is of the utmost importance, in the case of a cross-border succession. An Italian lawyer who knows how to navigate the Italian legal system is essential, because limited knowledge and experience lead to unwise tax planning, a badly constructed will and inadequate real estate structures.
Inheritance by will and Forced heirship: prohibition of disinheritance
According to Italian forced heirship law, the testator cannot straightforwardly disinherit immediate family members and cannot leave them less than that required by law. Only in extreme cases (such as violence or the threat of violence against the testator) could a rightful heir be legally declared disinherited. In all other cases immediate family members (forced heirs) inherit the minimum shares required by law. When there are no legitimate heirs in Italy or elsewhere, the testator is free to dispose of assets as they wish.
Forced heirship and the right to contest the will
If the testator divides up the assets in a way that does not meet the requirements of the law, rightful heirs can demand that any loss on their part be made up from available assets or from other heirs who have received more than their reserved quota.
Alternately, disinherited rightful heirs can claim their part of the estate before a court of law and take legal action to recover their reserved quota.
Forced heirship and “reserved quota”
The principle of forced heirship is mainly implemented through a “reserved quota”. This “quota” indicates what shares of the estate are mandated by law for each of the forced heirs.
|Reserved Heirs||Quota distributable||Reserved Quota|
|Spouse and one child||1/3||1/3||1/3||0|
|Spouse and two/more children||1/4||1/4||1/2*||0|
|One child (no spouse)||1/2||–||1/2||0|
|Two/more children (no spouse)||1/3||–||2/3*||0|
|Spouse (no child no parents)||1/2||1/2||0||0|
|Spouse and parents||1/4||1/2||0||1/4*|
|Parent/s (no spouse no children)||2/3||–||–||1/3*|
Types of Will in Italian Succession Law
the will bequeathing property located in Italy is written, dated and signed entirely in the testator’s hand, and one or more copies of the will is kept in a safe place.
the will bequeathing property located in Italy is written, dated and signed entirely in the testator’s hand, then personally delivered to a notary in the presence of two witnesses. The notary shall keep the will.
the will is drafted at the notary’s office, it is read before two witnesses, and signed together with the notary and witnesses.
In Italy, handwritten wills are brought to a Public Notary who reports and communicates the content of said wills to the known heirs. Reports are then recorded in the Registry of Wills at the local courthouse. In Italy, the law only guarantees the notice of the will (to let people know about its existence), not the protection of the closest heirs and creditors. Therefore, if you think your rights regarding the estate are in need of protection, you should initiate a legal action, because in Italy, the last will and testament are not brought before a Court and their execution is not supervised by a judge.
Calculating Your Italian Inheritance Tax
In Italy, taxes on inheritance fall into two main categories: estate tax (imposta di successione) and property transfer tax (imposta catastale). The imposta di successione applies to the total net value of the estate and covers both property and non-property assets. The rate of estate tax varies depending on the relationship between testator and beneficiary. Children and spouses, for example, are always taxed 3% for the entirety of the estate. However, if the estate is worth more than a million euros, the 3% overall tax is added to a tax of 4% on all assets beyond the million-euro mark.
Breakdown of Italian estate tax and rates by heir types
Inheritance tax for spouses and children
Below 1 million euros:
3% of the total estate value.
EXAMPLE: inheritance tax for an estate worth 500,000 is 15,000 euros.
Over 1 million euros:
3% of the total estate value and 4% of the value exceeding 1 million.
EXAMPLE: inheritance tax for an estate worth 1,500,000 is 45,000 + 20,000 = 65,000 euros.
Inheritance tax for siblings
3% of the total estate value and 6% of the value exceeding 100,000 euros.
EXAMPLE: inheritance tax for an estate worth 1,500,000 is 45,000 + 84,000 = 129,000 euros.
Inheritance tax for other relatives
9% of the total estate value.
EXAMPLE: inheritance tax for an estate worth 1,500,000 is 135,000 euros.
Inheritance tax for heirs who are not relatives
11% of the total estate value.
EXAMPLE: inheritance tax for an estate worth 1,500,000 is 165,000 euros.
These are general examples. There are several special conditions that could considerably reduce the amount of tax payable.
The other tax to consider is the imposta catastale. This is imposed when property located in Italy is transferred to an heir. The imposta catastale taxes at a rate of 3% of the property value on record, or valore catastale, which is typically 30 to 40 percent lower than the market value. If the property is used as the primary residence, the tax has a lower fixed rate of 200 euros. However, for most foreign clients this is not an option as the inherited property would not be utilized as the primary residence.