The beneficiaries of an Italian inheritance may find it a bittersweet advantage, for more than one reason. Finding that you have assets in Italy to deal with which will require the payment of any debts attached to the asset and that there are also the taxes associated with the property that are your liability, plus having to organise a Grant of Probate, may be daunting.  In Italy there are strict laws of succession and the estate of your deceased relative will be divided in accordance with these laws.  Unlike the UK, in Italy the beneficiaries of a property step straight into all the responsibilities associated with the deceased's estate.

As the bureaucratic procedures in Italy can be complex due to the information required and also the sheer volume of paperwork which is sometimes necessary to provide to the Italian authorities; it is highly recommended that you engage the services of an English/Italian speaking law firm with expertise in the field of Italian inheritance and succession laws in Italy. An experienced lawyer will guide you through the necessary steps and provide the peace of mind that no new responsibility will be overlooked and come back to haunt you at a later stage.

The Grant of Probate must be applied for within one year of the death.  An Italian Grant of Probate can usually be obtained from the Italian authorities and all of the deceased's assets need to be listed, regardless of whether such assets are located in Italy or abroad. There are complex rules of international private law that regulate the relationship between the estate and the beneficiaries, and from a tax perspective, usually there are bilateral treaties in force to determine the relevant liabilities on the foreign beneficiaries of an Italian inheritance, whether under a Will or by the Italian rules of intestacy set out in the civil code.  It will be necessary to attach to the application for a Grant of Probate the following documents: the deceased's death certificate, the family certificate relating to the deceased, together with that of the heirs and legatees as well and a copy of the will in Italian, if any.  Within 30 days from the submission of the Italian Grant of Probate, your lawyers would be required to submit to the Agency of the Territory the application for the "voltura catastale", which is an application for the variation of the cadastral details in the registration deeds of the property. Through the "voltura" application process, the financial administration in Italy is formally informed that the assets (both land and properties) have been transferred from the deceased to his or her heirs or any legatees.

However, if the debts and liabilities attached to the asset are too great for you to deal with or you do not wish to deal with them, you may decide to renounce the entire inheritance, but first, we would strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice to ensure that you make a rational and informed decision.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.