The Italian inheritance process

Talking about inheritance is not an easy task due to the very nature and complication of the Italian Law.

Succession refers to all legal aspects of the deceased including the assets and liabilities of the deceased person.  It is therefore necessary to discuss what does succession mean?  And what obligations are involved in testamentary succession?

Italian inheritance process

By writing a Will you have control over who inherits your property and possessions after your death; ensuring your wishes are followed and your estate is passed on to the family and friends you want to inherit it.  If someone dies without having made a Will, they die ‘intestate’.  This could mean that your assets would be distributed according to the Italian Law, rather than your wishes and the whole procedure can take months or even years to deal with.

Succession law in Italy starts at the time of death, and it is based on the ‘unity of inheritance’.  This means that there is a recognized difference between property and non-property assets of the deceased party: the law of the last domicile/citizenship of the deceased party is applicable to non-property assets whereas the law of the country where the property is located is applied to property assets.  If the deceased owned properties in different countries, the law of each country would be applicable for each property.

When all assets, rights, payments have been transferred to the heirs, the succession is deemed to be closed.  The last step of succession is represented by the allocation of or division of the inherited assets.  Division could be carried out by mutual agreement or as a consequence of judicial proceedings.  The division procedure being effective from the moment the division agreement is signed or the acceptance of inheritance lots.  This type of agreement is produced in written form.  It is worth noting here that the death of a family member initiates a series of actions: searching for a will, making an inventory of the deceased’s assets, ascertaining the presence of a safety deposit box, bank accounts and establishing contact with the relevant authorities to complete the whole succession procedure.

Required documents

The first step following a death is to gather all documents required to carry out the succession procedure and complete the ‘Dichiarazione di Successione’ which will be discussed in a different article.

Generally speaking the following documents are required to complete the succession procedure:

Death certificate:

This document is issued by the Registry of Vital Records at the municipality of residence.  The death certificate states the date, place and cause of a person’s death.   It is entered into the official register of deaths.  In order to obtain the death certificate the authority requires copies of the deceased’s personal ID and tax code; the personal ID and tax code of the applicant is also required.

Affidavit concerning the family situation of the deceased:

This is a public deed with which an affiant or deponent makes a statement (in the presence of witnesses) concerning the deceased’s family tree to identify the family members who could be interested in the succession procedure.

Title deeds of purchase of buildings and lands:

also any documents concerning modifications made or works to such properties, extensions, parcelling etc.

Family certificate of the deceased:

This document is issued by the registry of Civil Records and/or the Registry Office of the municipality of residence of the deceased.  From this document the legitimate heirs can be proven as it contains entire family information, providing names, relationships, dates and places of birth for each family member.  It often contains information about family members who have moved away or died.