Italian succession law follows the Roman Law principle which gives some protection to close members of the family, partially limiting the right of the testator to dispose of assets.
Testamentary Succession consists in the assignment of hereditary assets in compliance with the wishes of the testator as set out in an Italian Will. In the absence of a Will, instead, inheritance is devolved following the principles of Legal Succession.
The rights of heirs in Italian Succession Law
Where there is no Will, succession law gives rights to a number of legitimate heirs who have rights to the assets of the deceased. Such heirs are the spouse of the deceased and the relatives whom the law identifies as starting from the closer ones until the 6th degree of connection.
Italian succession law reserves a significant quota of the inheritance to very close relatives: spouse, ascendants and descendants are all “forced heirs”. This means that the testator cannot exclude them with a Will. When drafting an Italian will, the testator is free to dispose of a part of his assets, namely the “disposable quota”. This allows the testator to assign only part of their assets to strangers or non-relatives.
At the basis of succession law is unity of inheritance, which highlights the difference between property and non-property assets. The law of the last domicile or citizenship of the deceased party is applicable to non-property assets. The law of the country where the property is located, instead, applies to property assets.
Therefore, the law of the country where each property is located will regulate properties in different countries. The succession procedure formally ends when all assets, rights and pending payments have been transferred to the rightful heirs either by mutual agreement or as consequence of judicial proceedings. Then, the relevant parties produce a written agreement of inheritance and sign it.
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