First and foremost it is generally recommended that foreign citizens owning assets in Italy draft an Italian Will.
This will not only enable clarification of the deceased wishes but also prevent significant difficulties that heirs might experience when transferring the ownership of Italian properties originally registered in the name of the testator.
Although, generally speaking, Italy recognizes the validity of international Wills, under the Italian Law all foreign Wills must be authenticated by an Italian Public Notary before executing the probate. The Notary will not publish or legalize Wills drafted in a foreign language (and governed by different legal jurisdictions) in Italy unless translated by a professionally certified translator. It is nonetheless advisable for a non-Italian citizen to draft an Italian Will if s/he owns properties (house or land) on Italian territory.
It is also worth bearing in mind that an Italian Will can speed up the administrative procedures to
be carried out with Italian banks. Bank accounts of the deceased will be frozen immediately following the account holder’s death and the procedure to unfreeze them and obtain deposited funds can be long and difficult. Heirs could be called upon to pay certain expenses from their own pockets in the meantime, for example, payment of utility bills.
There are clear and obvious advantages to drafting an Italian Will. These can be summarized as follows:
An Italian Will reduces the risk of conflict among heirs.
An Italian Will may mean a reduced tax bill for heirs.
An Italian Will helps Italian authorities to better understand the deceased’s wishes regarding
disposal of his/her estate.
It is important to note that a Will can always be modified by the testator up to the very last moment of life. It is also essential to keep the Will in a safe place, for example in the hands of an independent professional who can guarantee its safe keeping and can advise possible heirs about its existence once the testator has passed away.
Getting professional legal advice from a lawyer who can help you to draft a Will ensures that it complies with Italian law. This will limit the complications of Italian legal succession and will ensure that Italian property is disposed of according to the testator’s wishes. For example, through a Will, it is possible to dispose of one’s own assets in favour of charity entities, public associations, etc. It would, therefore be wise to seek the advice of a professional in the field.
Please note, any statement made in this article is intended to be a general practical introductory explanation only and not advice. This firm accepts no liability or any responsibility for any statement made.