What is Succession and how is it ruled in Italy?
For Italian legal purposes, succession, that is to say the transfer of economic and real estate rights and duties of a person to his/her heirs, starts at the time of death. Succession law in Italy is based on the principle of “unity of inheritance”. This principle differs substantially from common law. Unity of inheritance is founded on the difference between property and non-property assets: the law of the last domicile/ citizenship of the deceased party is applicable to non-property assets, while the so called, “lex rei sitae” (law of the country where the property is located) is applied to property assets. Therefore, if the hereditary assets include properties located in different countries, the succession rights to each single property will be regulated by the law of the country in which each property is located.
The succession is deemed closed when all assets, rights and pending payments have been transferred to the heirs of the deceased. The ultimate step of the succession is represented by the allocation, or in case of more than one heir, of the division of the inherited assets.
Such division could be carried out by mutual agreement among the parties or as consequence of judicial proceedings, which is based on a specific agreement among the heirs. The division produces its effects at the moment of the partition and the acceptance of the inheritance lots, or the signature of the division agreement. Such an agreement shall be produced in written form.
It is worth keeping in mind that the death of a family member implies the need to undertake a series of actions, for example: searching for a Will, making an inventory of the deceased’s assets, ascertaining the presence of a safety deposit box and bank accounts and establishing contact with the relevant competent authorities to complete the whole succession procedure.