Own a Property in Italy but live in England? Here's What You Need to Know

Paid content
| Thu, 07/09/2020 - 00:09
italian property law

UK citizens who buy a property in Italy should update their wills to include their new asset, but are there any other legalities that they need to be aware of, considering that the property is situated in Italy?

This is a common question we get in our Italy community forums so luckily Laura Protti, Italian Avvocato and English Solicitor, from Leplaw is here to help answer. 

When dealing with a probate situation in Italy, the first step is to ascertain exactly what assets the deceased owned in Italy. The next step is to identify the applicable laws. It is at this stage that matters become a bit more complex and depend on whether the deceased made a Will, and specifically whether he or she made a separate Italian Will. In cases where there is no valid Italian Will, it is necessary to establish whether there is another valid Will that covers the Italian assets.

A Will is strongly recommended even when an Italian property is jointly owned as the individual ownership share of each individual owner will not pass to the surviving joint owner upon their death. In this respect, Italian co-ownership is more similar to the English concept of tenancy in common.

Despite the fact that UK Wills are valid in Italy, Italian probate involving foreign Wills is usually more complicated and an official, legalised translation of the Will and/or the Grant of Probate is usually necessary. In some cases a separate Italian Will to cover their Italian assets might simplify the probate procedure in Italy upon their death. 

However, an initial assessment of the most appropriate form of Will is always recommended as the choice of the type of Will should always follow comprehensive advice on the applicable laws of succession and a full assessment of the Estate in question.

  • The assessment should include the opportunity of appointing an executor to deal with the probate formalities involved.
  • The appointment of an executor is not normal practice in Italy and it is normally arranged when the beneficiary is a minor or is not able to look after his/her interests (due to an illness or a disability).
  • The process of appointing an executor, and generally the work involved in the administration of an estate by an executor, is subject to strict rules and involves a significant amount of bureaucracy and formalities in Italy.

In light of this, the preliminary assessment should also address the opportunity of appointing an executor for dealing with the succession formalities in Italy. As for the applicable tax liabilities, Italian inheritance tax is payable on assets located in Italy and ranges from 4% to 11% of their official land registry value for immovable properties. When making a Will, UK citizens should carefully consider their potential UK liabilities, which may still impact British nationals resident abroad.

Laura lawFor further clarifications on this or if you simply want a trusted English-speaker who can help navigate Italian property law, contact English/Italian Leplaw firm today.