Many people are delighted to have inherited a property in Italy, it is a wonderful asset to own.  There are, of course, legal formalities to be addressed and it can be a daunting task to wade through Italian bureaucracy; the volume of paperwork alone that needs to be dealt with amounts to quite a lot.  If you do not speak Italian the safest course of action is to immediately instruct an English speaking Italian lawyer with experience in dealing with the demands of Italian probate.

The starting point is to acquire a Grant of Probate which can be obtained from the Italian authorities but it must be sought within one year of the death. The relationship between the beneficiaries and the estate itself is regulated by quite complex rules and regulations in Italy.  You will have to itemise all your deceased relative's assets, regardless of where they may be located in the world.  Tax is usually regulated by bilateral treaties in force to determine the relevant liabilities applying to the foreign beneficiaries of an Italian inheritance, whether under a will or by the Italian rules of intestacy set out in the civil code. The following documents will have to accompany the Grant of Probate application:

  • the deceased's death certificate,
  • the family certificate relating to the deceased, together with that of the heirs and legatees
  • a copy of the will in Italian, if any exists, due to the prescribed laws of succession many Italians do not make a will. 

Following the submission of the Italian Grant of Probate, your lawyers will  be required to submit, within 30 days, an application for the "voltura catastale", to the Agency of the Territory, this is to permit the variation of the cadastral details in the registration deeds of the property through the "voltura" application process, enabling the financial administration in Italy to be formally informed that the assets (both land and properties) have been transferred from the deceased to his or her heirs or any legatees.

Unlike the UK, in Italy the beneficiaries of a property step straight into all the responsibilities associated with the property immediately they inherit.  It may be that the property has debts and liabilities that make it too costly to take on.   If the liabilities attached to the asset are too great for you to deal with or you simply do not wish to deal with them, you may decide to renounce the entire inheritance.  The expert lawyers at Giambrone would strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice to ensure that you make a rational and informed decision.  A property is often the largest asset an individual owns and very careful thought must be given to renouncing such an asset.

The Lawyers at Giambrone, both in the London office and the Italian offices can assist with the most intricate situations, including contested wills and can guide you so that you avoid any inadvertent breaches of process and lead you to the smooth transition of ownership of your new property.

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.