Italian Ancestry and Inheritance

Over recent years, tracing your family tree has become popular both through television programmes and our own personal curiosity of the past. Who wouldn’t like to find they secretly own a villa in Tuscany or an apartment in Venice? These stories do exist and with more and more access to technology and records of immigration, people are taking up the hobby of tracing family history or employing a professional to build their family tree.
The exciting part of the trail has to be getting a positive lead which may result in visiting our ancestor’s home town, looking up records of births, marriage and deaths and uncovering some hidden part of ourselves through our research. This will almost certainly lead to new contacts, friends and quite possibly the discovery of a new part of Italy.
If you have Italian relatives or have recently traced your Italian roots the next step may be that you have claim to part of an ancestral home. By law, the family cannot be excluded from inheritance in Italy. The main principles of the Italian legal succession is the protection of the family. As a result of this, some heirs cannot be excluded from the succession, these heirs are known as ‘forced heirs’, even in the case of testamentary succession. A part of the deceased’s assets (reserved quota) must be assigned necessarily to forced heirs. Italian Civil Code determines exactly the inheritance quota available to the testator, that is to say which is the quota that he/she can dispose of without any limitation. Italian law reserves a quota of the inheritance to forced heirs, who are:
a) Legitimate, natural, adopted children
b) Married partner
c) Legitimate ascendants (only in absence of children)
Outlined below, the reserved quota and the available quota dependent on relationship to the
deceased:

Heirs   –   Reserved quota (legitimate quota)  –  Available quota
Spouse – ½ reserved quota – ½ available quota
Spouse + 1 child – 1/3 spouse, 1/3 child – 1/3 available quota
Spouse + 2 or more children – ¼ spouse, ½ children – ¼ available quota
Spouse and ascendants – ½ spouse, ¼ ascendants – ¼ available quota
1 child – ½ – ½ available quota
2 or more children – 2/3 – 1/3 available quota
Ascendants – 1/3 –  2/3 available quota
Spouse, ascendants and brothers and sisters – ½ spouse, ¼ ascendants – ¼ available quota
Spouse and brothers and sisters – ½ spouse – ½ available quota
Ascendants and brothers and sisters – 1/3 ascendants – 2/3 available quota
Brothers and sisters – 0 – All assets as available quota

If no Will was written, the Italian Law then determines which relatives have legitimate succession rights and the corresponding quota of assets with the possible entitlement to succeed up to the 6th degree of kinship So, if you think that you may have inheritance rights to a property in Italy, do not hesitate to contact us and we can assist you with the legal aspects of succession and inheritance and who knows, a future you never dreamed of in Italy!