Each year a number of people with Italian heritage unexpected find that they have inherited a property from a distant Italian relative, sometimes, from someone they barely know and have never met.  The situation can arise if a person names you as a beneficiary in their will or if there is no will, the strict laws of succession in Italy, often described as forced heirship, where the deceased's estate automatically passes to the relatives in strict order of succession dependant on the proximity between the deceased and the beneficiary within the family. If a person has outlived their immediate family then more distant relatives must be sought.   

Many people are delighted to inherit such an asset, however, this comes with responsibilities and legal formalities which must be assumed and addressed. Unlike the UK, in Italy, the beneficiary steps straight into responsibility for the debts and taxes attached to the property so it is imperative that you act immediately to address all the legal requirements necessary.  If you consider that financial responsibilities attached to the property are too great you can renounce the inheritance and the estate will cascade down from you to the next closest relative.

If you make the decision to accept the inheritance it is strongly advised that you should instruct probate lawyers experienced in Italian succession law, particularly if you do not speak Italian.  Giambrone's wills and probate team can assist in both in Italy and in the UK.  There may not be the necessity to travel to Italy as our lawyers can act on your behalf through the medium of a Power of Attorney.   

On acceptance of your inheritance, you must start the process by obtaining a Grant of Probate from the Italian authorities.  This must be obtained within one year of the death.  In order to obtain a Grant of Probate the following documents are required:

  • A death certificate for the deceased
  • Documentation relating to the deceased, together with that of the heirs and legatees proving the link between them,
  • A copy of the will in Italian, if there is a will, the laws of succession in Italy result in many Italians not making a will. 

Following Brexit, the UK is now regarded as a non-EU Member State and the tax liabilities have varied. It can be a daunting task to wade through Italian bureaucracy; there is a considerable volume of paperwork that must be dealt with, including the itemisation of, the entire estate of the deceased, regardless of location.  

Giambrone's highly regarded English speaking wills and probate lawyers can guide you through the intricacies of an Italian Grant of Probate and take the burden of the official procedures from your shoulders and also ensure that every step is correct. There is a relatively short time of 30 days to submit an application for the "voltura cadastral" to the Agency of the Territory to enable the alteration of the cadastral details in the registration deeds relating to the property, this is done through the "voltura" application process which informs the financial administration in Italy to be informed of the transfer of assets, whether land or property, from the deceased to the heirs.

Our wills and probate team also can assist with contentious probate should a challenge arise from another person who considers that they should be the beneficiary.  Our lawyers have considerable experience in dealing with a wide range of disputes that frequently arise in these circumstances and enjoy a well-deserved reputation for resolving acrimonious and complex challenges.

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.