Intestate succession

How Intestate Succession Works In Italy

Legitimate succession, or intestate inheritance, in Italy means Italian succession by virtue of the law. It is basically the succession of relatives.

The law allows individuals to dispose of their assets, after death, by means of a will. If they have not disposed, in whole or in part, of their assets, the law also determines whom these assets must be bestowed upon, based on pertinent legal criteria. The criteria in question involves the closeness of kinship ties that bind the relatives to the deceased; which is why the closest ties take precedence over more distant ones.

The foundation of legitimate succession is the solidarity of the family bond (parental or conjugal).

The prerequisite for application of rules of legitimate succession is normally that the deceased does not have a will.

However, intestate succession in Italy can also occur when there is a will, providing that it dictates provisions only for some assets, while others are subject to registered succession.

The same occurs if some of the property provisions of the will are annulled, revoked or are otherwise ineffective; likewise, if there are no estate (merely moral or personal) provisions in the will.

Quotas established by the Civil Code

The regulation of the Italian intestate succession can be found at Articles 565 to 586 of the Italian Civil Code.

Heirs receive 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 (hence also debts).

In fact, unlike succession in common law systems, in Italian law the motivating principle is that an Italian succession of relatives is carried out in the universum iurius, that is, in all aspects of the law and all obligations that are due the deceased, except for those rights and duties that cannot be passed with Italian heirship (name, family position, alimony, etc.).

Spouse, separation and divorce

As far as spouses are concerned, they are entitled to live in domiciles used as family residences and all furnishing contained within (Article 540 of the Italian Civil Code).

Divorce, but not separation, causes spouses to lose their mutual inheritance rights, if death occurs after the divorce has been recorded in the civil status registries.

However, the divorced (or separated through legal charges) spouse is entitled to a life allowance commensurate with the hereditary aspects and the closeness and number of legitimate heirs, if at the time of the opening of succession they received alimony paid by the deceased spouse. The allowance can never be higher than the alimony.

Separation due to legal charges brought is treated as divorce and therefore leads to the loss of right of succession.

aloneall the inheritance
inheriting alongside an only child1/2 of the inheritance
inheriting alongside multiple children1/3 of the inheritance
in the absence of children, inheriting alongside siblings or forebears of the deceased, or else others in the will2/3 of the inheritance
aloneall the inheritance
inheriting alongside a spouse               1/2 of the inheritance
aloneall the inheritance split equally
inheriting alongside a spouse2/3 of the inheritance split equally
Parents   (only when there is no child of the deceased)
aloneall the inheritance – if there is only one surviving parent, all the inheritance will go to that parent
inheriting alongside a spouse1/3 of the inheritance
inheriting alongside siblingsthe inheritance will be split equally among the parties,but the parents are assured a minimum (1/2 of the inheritance)
Forebears   (only when there is no child or parent of the deceased)
inheriting alongside a spouseall the inheritance — half goes to forebears of the paternal line and half to the maternal line; forebears include those of a closer degree (i.e. grandparents) and excludes more distant ones (i.e. great grandparents)
inheriting alongside siblings1/3 of the inheritance– it is up to the forebears to determine the share that is due to the surviving parent
inheriting contemporaneouslythe forebears and siblings divide
alongside a spouse and siblingsup 1/3 of the inheritance, although forebears are assured a minimum (1/4 oh this share)