Italian Inheritance: Accept or Renounce?

When dealing with an Italian inheritance, beneficiaries have two options: they can either renounce or accept the right to the assets. Once accepted, the qualification of heir becomes irrevocable.

Acceptance Process

Beneficiaries can express or imply acceptance as an heir, but they must manifest it within 10 years from the opening of the succession process. Express acceptance occurs when the heir formally declares their willingness to accept the status of heir through a notarial or private deed. On the other hand, tacit acceptance happens when the heir’s actions imply their acceptance to inherit assets.

Reserving the Right to Accept

Beneficiaries can also reserve the right to accept or renounce an Italian inheritance until they determine the extent of debts on the assets. This allows them to assess whether the debts exceed the value of the property. By reserving acceptance, the heir can choose to renounce the inheritance in favor of creditors and legatees, thus freeing themselves from any outstanding debts.

Reasons for Renouncement

Beneficiaries generally renounce an inheritance if the decedent’s debts surpass the value of the assets. In such cases, the heir must only pay debts up to the value of the inherited property.

The Process of Renouncement

Beneficiaries must make a statement in front of a Notary Public or at the chancery of the court where the succession process was opened (“volontaria giurisdizione” section) to renounce a succession. The Notary Public or Court clerk then records the statement in the succession register. Renouncement should be done within 10 years of the opening of the succession.


If you find yourself as an heir to an Italian inheritance, it is advisable to consult a competent and independent professional. They can provide valuable information about any debts and charges on the inherited assets and explain the duties of an heir. An experienced legal professional will conduct a comprehensive inventory of the assets involved, enabling the heir to make an informed decision on how to proceed.

If you have any questions or need guidance regarding Italian inheritance, feel free to comment below or get in touch with us. Our team of experts is here to assist you.

Discover more about accepting an Italian inheritance and protecting your personal assets from debts associated with it in this article on the De Tullio Law Firm website.

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1 Comment

  1. Bernard Clyde

    I didn’t realize that heirs were to pay the debts of a decedent. I agree with you that it is probably wise to get professional help to see what the best option is for you in the case of succession. It’s important to make an informed decision, even if it costs a little bit more to do so.