Inheriting Italian Assets: Navigating Italian Law

Losing a loved one is a challenging and emotional time, and it can become even more complicated when you discover that your deceased relative owned assets in another country, such as Italy. Inheriting Italian assets can raise numerous questions and uncertainties, but understanding the legal procedures and seeking appropriate guidance can help you navigate through the complexities. In this blog post, we will explore the steps you should consider taking when dealing with Italian law and inheriting assets from a deceased relative.

Determine the Existence of Italian Assets

The first step is to establish whether your deceased relative indeed owned assets in Italy. This process may involve conducting a thorough review of their financial records, including bank statements, property deeds, investment portfolios, and any other relevant documentation. If you are unsure about where to start, consulting an attorney or an estate professional experienced in international inheritance matters can provide valuable guidance.

Inheriting Italian Assets: Identify the Applicable Laws and Jurisdiction

Inheritance laws can vary significantly from country to country, and Italy is no exception. It is essential to determine the specific laws and regulations that apply to the distribution of assets in Italy. Pursuant to Italian law, inheritance is transmitted in two ways:

  1. In the law of intestate succession, where the decased died without a will, assets transfer to descendants or the surviving spouse. This is in accordance with the principles of Italian Civil Code.
  2. A will, a legal document signed by the deceased to dispose of assets after death, also determines asset transmission.

Understanding these laws will help you assess your rights and obligations as an heir.

Types of Will

In broad terms, the will can be of two types:

Italian Will: This has to be published and registered with the competent Italian authorities after the death of the testator.

Non-Italian Will: According to Italian inheritance obligations, a foreign will must first be translated by means of a sworn translation before an Italian Court. A non-Italian will, especially if it lacks any explicit reference to the Italian assets, becomes subject to interpretation with the support of an Italian attorney. This is necessary to ascertain whether or not the will is applicable to Italian assets or not. If the assets are not expressly disposed of by the will, the right to succession follows the rules of the Italian Civil Code.

In either case, there are some Italian inheritance obligations, by which an Italian inheritance should be formally accepted.

Inheriting Italian Assets: Seek Legal Assistance

Navigating the complexities of Italian law and the inheritance process can be overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal system. Engaging the services of an Italian lawyer specializing in international inheritance can provide you with expert guidance and ensure that you follow the necessary legal procedures accurately. A knowledgeable attorney will help you understand the inheritance process, represent your interests, and handle the necessary paperwork on your behalf.

Gather the Required Documentation

To proceed with the inheritance process, you will need to gather a range of documents, including the deceased’s death certificate, will (if available), and any evidence of ownership of Italian assets. These documents are crucial to proving your legal entitlement to the assets and facilitating the transfer process. Working closely with your legal advisor, compile the necessary paperwork and ensure its accuracy and completeness.

Inheriting Italian Assets: Initiate the Probate Procedure

Within twelve months of the testator’s death, heirs or executors should file for Italian probate with the competent authority, which is the tax office – Agenzia delle Entrate. The determination of the specific branch of the Agenzia delle Entrate that receives the probate filing is based on the testator’s residence at the time of death. Additionally, it is important to note that heirs or executors shall be responsible for paying the relevant inheritance tax connected with the inheritance.

Two factors determine the amount of inheritance tax payable. Firstly, it depends on the relationship of the heirs to the deceased. Secondly, it is based on the value of the portion of assets inherited. Transitioning smoothly into the next steps of the inheritance process, it is crucial to understand the financial implications involved.

By following these procedures and fulfilling the necessary requirements, heirs can effectively navigate the Italian probate process and ensure a smooth transfer of assets. I highly recommend seeking professional advice and guidance to effectively and seamlessly manage the process.

Once probate is complete, it is possible to re-register immovable assets in the names of the heirs.


Inheriting assets from a deceased relative in Italy can be a complex and intricate process, necessitating a thorough understanding of Italian inheritance laws and the legal procedures involved. Seeking professional legal assistance, gathering the necessary documentation, and initiating the probate procedure are essential steps to ensure a smooth and successful transfer of assets.

If you find yourself in this situation, remember that you are not alone. Many individuals have gone through similar experiences, and their insights can provide valuable guidance. We invite you to share your stories and experiences in dealing with Italian law and inheriting assets in the comments section below. Have you encountered any unexpected challenges? How did you navigate through them? Your insights may offer comfort and guidance to others going through a similar process.

Remember, while this blog post provides a general overview, it is crucial to consult with a qualified legal professional who specializes in international inheritance matters to address your specific situation. By seeking the right advice and guidance, you can navigate the complexities of Italian law and successfully inherit the assets of your deceased relative.

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