If you have Italian heritage it is possible that you may find that you have inherited a property owned by a distant relative whose existence comes as a complete surprise. It is not unknown in large families for an individual to lose contact with distant cousins, particularly if you do not live in the same country and there is a generation or two between you. Discovering that you have real estate assets in Italy can be a double-edged sword as in Italy, unlike the UK, financial responsibility for your surprise asset arises immediately and you must assume responsibility for all the taxes, debts and costs straight away.

Grant of Probate - Dichiarazione di Successione

A Grant of Probate or Dichiarazione di Successione must be applied for within one year of the death of your relative to enable the property to be released to the beneficiaries, you are obliged to provide the following to the appropriate tax authority Agenzia delle Entrate:

  • A certified copy of the will
  • An affidavit confirming that you are the legitimate beneficiary of the estate
  • If there is no will you will need an affidavit stating that you are the beneficiary by law
  • Information about the property – the cadastral information
  • A death certificate
  • A note of the appointed Italian tax address
  • A statement of succession for the purposes of inheritance tax

All the above documents require an official Italian translation. The lawyers in the inheritance and probate team at Giambrone highly recommend that the services of an English/Italian speaking law firm with expertise in the field of Italian inheritance and succession laws in Italy is sought to ensure that there are no breaches relating to the liabilities attached to your new acquisition. As the bureaucratic procedures in Italy can be complex, in part due to the information required, together with the sheer volume of paperwork that is sometimes required by the Italian authorities. The deceased's entire worldwide assets must be listed, regardless of where they are located.

Transfer of the Property - Voltura Catastale

Once the Grant of Probate has been applied for you must apply to the Agency of the Territory for theVoltura Catastale, which will transfer the property from the deceased to the new owner. This process formally provides the financial authorities with the information that the assets, land and/or properties, have been transferred from the deceased to his or her heirs or any legatees.

The financial liabilities of your unexpected Italian property may not be welcome and if you feel the debts and liabilities attached to the asset are too great and you do not wish to deal with them, you may decide to renounce the entire inheritance, which will then revert to the next closest heir. Giambrone's expert inheritance and probate team would strongly recommend that you appoint a lawyer to give you comprehensive advice to enable you to make a rational and informed decision before renouncing a significant asset.

The Lawyers at Giambrone, both in the London office and the Italian offices have extensive expertise with cross-border inheritance and can assist with the most complex matters including contested wills.

If you would like more information about how to deal with a property you have inherited in Italy please click here

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.