Wills in Italy


If you are a UK citizen or UK resident, making an Italian Will for property in Italy is usually the smart choice. Benefits include ensuring the right people inherit from your estate, potentially reducing your estate’s inheritance tax burden and making the process of administering your estate simpler and less costly for your heirs.

For people who have assets in the UK and Italy, it is normally advised to make both an Italian Will and a UK Will. This allows you to account for the differences between the two countries’ laws in your estate planning and avoid potential issues, such as your Wills unintentionally revoking or interfering with the other.

Getting expert advice on making an Italian Will can give you peace of mind that all of the legal details are taken care of and that there won’t be any nasty surprises for your loved ones when you are gone.

Judicare is a leading international property law firm providing clients with specialist global legal advice related to property and land overseas. As well as assisting with buying and selling property in Italy, we also assist with Italian inheritance planning.

Our legal team can assist with all aspects of Wills in Italy and Italian inheritance planning, including:

  • Making an Italian Will
  • Having an Italian Will notarised
  • Advice on the effect of your existing Will
  • Italian inheritance tax planning (to minimise the tax burden on your estate)
  • Advice for executors of Italian Wills and UK Wills (including assistance with the administration of the estate)
  • Advice for beneficiaries (including people who may inherit under Italian forced heirship rules (‘eredi legittimari’) or under rules of intestacy)

We are headquartered in the UK, meaning we offer the security of dealing with UK-regulated and insured solicitors, combined with comprehensive knowledge of Italian inheritance rules.

For specific advice on making an Italian Will tailored to your needs or dealing with any other aspect of Italian inheritance law, please get in touch with our friendly expert legal team.

Call: 01438 840 258                    Email: admin@judicaregroup.com


Four key reasons to make an Italian Will for property and other assets in Italy

There are a number of important reasons why it will likely be to your benefit to make an Italian Will for any assets you own in Italy:

1. Estate administration is simpler with an Italian Will

By making an Italian Will, you are making life much easier for the Italian authorities as they will understand this type of Will, how it works and exactly how to deal with it. This will therefore make the whole probate process much less complicated for your heirs. This will also remove the need for additional steps, such as having a UK Will translated into Italian, which would otherwise be required.

2. Inheritance costs will be lower

Making the probate process simpler will generally mean that it costs less as there should be fewer stages and people involved, reducing the number of fees that will need to be paid. This is especially true when it comes to the cost of translating a UK Will into Italian, which normally costs more than just making an Italian Will in the first place.

3. It will make estate administration faster

Using an Italian Will means your heirs normally won’t have to wait for the UK probate to take place before dealing with your assets in Italy. As you must pay any inheritance tax due in Italy within one year of the deceased’s date of death, any delays while you wait for UK probate could potentially result in you missing this deadline and having to pay a fine.

4. You can plan more effectively for inheritance tax

Making an Italian Will allows you to plan your estate to account for Italian inheritance tax rules, so can make it much more tax efficient. This is because Italian inheritance tax rules are quite different to those in the UK, with the rates of inheritance tax due on an estate depending on who the beneficiary is.

Spouses, children and parents of the deceased pay a much lower inheritance tax rate than non-relatives, while other close relatives also get a slightly reduced rate. It can therefore be sensible to factor this in when planning your estate to minimise its inheritance tax burden.

How we can help with Italian Wills and inheritance

Making an Italian Will

If you have property or other assets in Italy, it is strongly recommended to make an Italian Will in addition to your UK Will.

There are two types of Italian Will:

Italian Public Will

The advantage of a Public Will is that it will be drafted with the assistance of the Italian Notary Public and kept by the Italian Notary Public and by an Italian Notarial Public Archive, and therefore easily accessible to the heirs.

The Will needs to be signed before a Notary Public in Italy in the Italian language with a translation into English and in the presence of an official interpreter and two witnesses, one of whom declares to have knowledge of the English language. Our assistance includes preparing a simple Will, translating it into English, liaising with the Notary Public, assisting you at the signing of the Will and providing an official interpreter and English-speaking witness at the signing, if necessary.

Please note that a Will cannot be signed by means of a Power of Attorney but only personally, save some exceptional situations (wars, contagious diseases, etc.).

Italian “Private” Will (testamento olografo)

This is a simple document handwritten, signed, and dated by the testator. This does not need to be witnessed but should be checked by a lawyer.

This Will can be kept:

- A) by the testator e.g., in his/her house

- B) by a Notary Public as follows:

B1) by means of a “deposit deed” that will follow the same way of being kept of the public will (kept by the Italian Notary Public and by an Italian Notarial Public Archive, and therefore easily accessible to the heirs).

B2) By means of a “fiduciary deposit” at the Notary’s office. In the event the notary predeceases the testator, retires, or ceases his activity, the Will will be given back to the testator.

Our Italian inheritance lawyers can help you with creating a valid Italian Will that meets your requirements. We can also advise on how this may interact with your UK Will, so you fully understand everything that should happen with your estate when the time comes.

Advice on the effect of your existing Italian Will and/or UK Will

Should you already have a Will, whether in the UK, Italy or both, we can review these for you to make sure your wishes are properly reflected and that you fully understand all of the potential effects on your estate.

Our legal team can also advise you on the interaction between different Wills (i.e., a UK Will and Italian Will) and whether a new Will or Wills may be required.

Italian inheritance tax planning

Italian inheritance tax rules are different to those in the UK, so anyone who owns Italian property will need to take these rules into account when planning their estate if they wish to ensure their heirs receive the maximum possible benefit from their estate.

While inheritance tax on Italian property needs to be paid in Italy, these assets must also be declared in the UK. Fortunately, Double Taxation Laws mean any inheritance tax paid in Italy can be offset against your UK inheritance tax liabilities for those assets.

We can talk you through exactly how inheritance tax rules in Italy and the UK will apply to your estate. We can then help you make the right decisions to ensure your estate is as tax efficient as possible.

Advice for executors of Italian Wills and UK Wills

Being the executor of an estate that contains Italian property can be confusing and intimidating, with the need to navigate not one, but two sets of laws.

With an understanding in both UK inheritance law and Italian inheritance law, our team can help you to effectively administer the estate, untangling the legal complexities for you and making the whole process as straightforward as possible.

Dealing with Italian intestacy rules

Where someone who owned property in Italy dies without leaving a Will, their estate will be dealt with under Italian intestacy law which will specify exactly who is entitled to inherit from the estate.

Exactly who stands to inherit under Italian intestacy law depends on what living relatives the deceased had, including whether they were married and/or have any surviving children.

Failing to make a Will and relying on intestacy laws can mean the wrong person inherits as well as making things much more complicated for your heirs. If you believe you should be inheriting from an estate being dealt with under intestacy laws, it is essential to understand how they work to be clear about your rights.

Our Italian intestacy lawyers can advise you on how an estate will be dealt with under intestacy laws and what you need to do, whether as the person whose estate it is or a beneficiary of the estate.

Advice for beneficiaries of estates containing Italian property

If you have inherited or are due to inherit a property in Italy, we can advise you on exactly what you need to do.

Should you have a concern about how you have been treated under an Italian Will, a UK Will covering Italian property or your inheritance rights under the Italian law, we can advise on your options. We can also advise on responding to an inheritance dispute over Italian property.

Why choose Judicare for advice about Italian Wills?

We can handle both your UK Will and Italian Will expertly

Our legal team are skilled in both UK and Italian inheritance laws. This means you only have to instruct one lawyer for your Italian Will needs and we can help you create Wills in both the UK and Italy to account for every part of your estate.

Plain English advice

We speak English – when it comes to Wills and probate advice you should never take the chance of instructing a lawyer who does not speak fluent English. As we are based in the UK, we speak English as our primary language, with no unnecessary legal jargon.

UK-regulated solicitors. Real peace of mind.

Judicare are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This means you can be confident we will adhere to the strict standards expected of UK lawyers.

Complete understanding of how Italian inheritance laws and UK inheritance laws interact

One of our key selling points is that we understand the laws in multiple jurisdictions (including Italy) and regularly advise clients on how those laws interact with UK law. As such, we can provide clear, seasoned expertise on situations other law firms likely won’t have the experience to handle effectively.

AIPP membership

Property is one of the most common assets people have in their Will, so working with a law firm with strong international property expertise is usually a good idea when dealing with Italian inheritance. This is one area where Judicare particularly excels.

We are a member of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP), which was set up to improve standards of professionalism in a largely unregulated overseas property market. As AIPP members, we have signed up to a Code of Conduct that assures we adhere to the highest standards of honesty and professional integrity.

Decades of collective experience in Italian inheritance law

Our legal team have many years of experience dealing with all aspects of Italian Wills and cross-border inheritance planning. This means we know all of the issues you need to consider, exactly what needs to be done and all of the common problems you can run into (and the not so common ones).

Drawing on our collective experience, we can help you to plan effectively and make sure every stage of your Italian inheritance planning goes ahead as smoothly as possible.

Need expert help with an Italian Will?

Looking for a highly experienced, trustworthy, and reliable team of Italian Will experts in the UK?

Need expert guidance and plain English advice on making, varying, understanding, or executing an Italian Will?

Want peace of mind that everything has been properly taken care of?

Then get in touch with the team at Judicare today!

Call: 01438 840 258                   Email: admin@judicaregroup.com


Common questions about Italian Wills

Do I have to leave my Italian assets to my children under ‘forced heirship’?

This is a very common question for those who own property or other assets in Italy. While Italy does have forced heirship rules (known as ‘eredi legittimari’), if you are not an Italian citizen and not resident in Italy then you can get around this.

That said, depending on your situation, there can be advantages to following Italian inheritance rules, for example, it can sometimes be more cost-effective to do so.

If you are concerned about how Italian forced heirship rules apply to your estate, you should seek specialist advice from an Italian inheritance law expert.

Are the inheritance rules in Italy the same as the UK?

No, Italy has completely different inheritance laws and it is important to understand these and how they interact with UK inheritance laws if you own property or other assets in Italy but are a UK citizen or resident.

The way you leave assets in Italy, the process for administering an estate, the costs involved and other issues all differ from how things work in the UK. Failing to understand this can lead to the wrong people inheriting, additional legal costs, a higher inheritance tax burden and a slower, more stressful probate process for your loved ones.

Working with a legal expert who understands both Italian and UK law can make life much easier for you and your heirs, ensuring your estate is handled in the way you would intend, while keeping the costs and potential complications to a minimum.

Do I have to make a Will for my Italian property?

Technically, no. If you do not have a Will covering your Italian property, then that property Will be dealt with under Italian intestacy laws.

However, this can mean that your property will go to someone you may not have intended. It will also likely make the process of administering your estate more complicated, time consuming and expensive for your heirs.

Can I just leave my assets in Italy in my UK Will?

Yes, Italian law does recognise Wills made abroad, however this is normally not the best way of dealing with your Italian property and other assets for a number of reasons.

Potential issues with using a UK Will for Italian assets include:

Unnecessarily increase the legal costs involved in dealing with your estate

Leaving your estate less tax-efficient

The added cost of your UK Will needing to be translated into Italian for the Italian authorities when the time comes to administer your estate (this cost is often more than that of making a separate Italian Will)

Slowing down the probate process

Delaying payment of inheritance tax leading to a late payment fine and interest being added to the amount owed

It may be necessary to draft a Declaration of Law which confirms to the authorities in Italy that the UK Will is valid in the UK and also who the beneficiaries are.

Italian authorities will not be used to dealing with UK Wills, which can further add to the amount of time, effort and cost involved in untangling any confusion that arises

For all of these reasons, making a separate Italian Will for property and other assets in Italy is almost always the best choice.

Can I have a UK Will and an Italian Will?

Yes, you can have two Wills with one covering your UK assets and the other covering your Italian assets. This is often the best approach if you have assets in both countries, but it is important to make sure both Wills are carefully drafted so as to work together effectively and not cause unintended conflicts or other problems.

For example, if one or both of your Wills are drafted incorrectly, one of them could revoke the other, causing problems for your heirs. It is therefore strongly advised to work with an inheritance lawyer who is experienced in these situations.