Inheritance of an Italian Estate – Case Study

Beth Watson’s unexpected inheritance of an Italian estate in 2015 brought both excitement and challenges. Like many others who inherit property in Italy, she faced the daunting task of navigating the legal system in a foreign language and dealing with complex paperwork. Beth quickly realized that going through this process without the guidance of experienced professionals was risky and could lead to potential issues and financial pitfalls.

Legal complexities and cross-border implications:

Inheriting an estate in Italy involves understanding the country’s unique rules and regulations. In Italy, children are entitled to a portion of their parents’ estates, regardless of their relationship. When multiple countries are involved, such as in Beth’s case where a Swiss citizen left property in Italy to an American citizen, the complexities multiply.

The risks of going solo:

Attempting to handle the inheritance process independently can have severe consequences. Forfeiting the inheritance, paying excessive taxes, or even violating the law are all potential risks. It’s essential to have the support of experienced professionals who can navigate the intricate legal landscape, ensuring a smooth and compliant process.

Financial obligations and tax considerations:

Beth’s inherited property valued over $100,000, requiring her to report it to the IRS in the USA. Failure to do so can result in significant penalties. The person inheriting assets in Italy is liable for Italian inheritance tax. Beth had to cover multiple expenses, such as inheritance taxes, funeral costs, legal fees, property taxes, and utility bills.

Residency and business limitations:

Beth’s desire to live and operate a business on her inherited property faced obstacles due to her residency status. Owning the estate did not automatically grant her citizenship or residency rights. The rejection of her initial applications for self-employed residency and “elective residency” highlighted the importance of meeting specific requirements and demonstrating sufficient financial resources.

The need for experienced professionals:

Beth’s decision to seek professional help was a turning point in resolving her inheritance matters. With the guidance of experienced experts, it took approximately a year to navigate the complexities, gain legal possession of the estate, and work towards Beth’s goal of residency and starting a business.


Beth’s experience underscores the significance of relying on qualified professionals when dealing with Italian estate inheritances. If you have thoughts or questions regarding Italian estate inheritances or if you’ve gone through a similar process, we encourage you to share your insights in the comments below. For personalised assistance with your estate matters, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Share your thoughts and experiences with Italian estate inheritances in the comments below. Contact me for personalised assistance with your estate matters.

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