Inheritance of assets in Italy: when and why to accept under benefit of inventory

If you are called as heir in Italy, you have three alternatives:


– pure and simple acceptance of the inheritance: you will inherit all the assets subject to succession and have unlimited personal liability for the deceased’s debts, even if the amount of the debts exceeds the value of the assets inherited;

– repudiation of the inheritance: you will renounce any asset subject to succession and be excluded from the testament;

– acceptance under benefit of inventory: usually the best option if you are unsure about the deceased’s debts and other succession charges.


How does the acceptance under benefit of inventory work?


The acceptance under benefit of inventory allows you to avoid the risk of having to face the debts of the deceased with your money.


For example, if the object of the inheritance is a sum equal to € 50,000 but the amount of debts is € 60,000, the acceptance with benefit of inventory allows you to answer debts only for the amount of the inherited sum.


The use of this option is useful when there is no certainty about the real amount of the debts of the deceased with respect to the legacy; if it is clear that the assets’ liabilities exceed the active amount of the legacy, it is advisable to opt for the total renunciation of the inheritance.


Is it compulsory?


The acceptance of succession must be made with benefit of inventory when the inheritance is devolved to minors, emancipated minors, people under a legal incapacity and legal persons, associations and foundations (except companies). Although in such cases the institute is obligatory, it does not operate automatically: it is necessary that a suitable subject performs the deed in order to make the acceptance valid. In the case of minors and interdicts, the parents or guardians will need to perform the deed, following a special consent issued by the judge. Individuals with limited ability to act (disabled and emancipated minors) can take advantage of the inventory benefit with the consent of the guardians and the judge.


How to proceed?


Acceptance under benefit of inventory can be performed through a declaration before a notary or court clerk, to be made in the district where the deceased had his/her last domicile. The declaration will then be subject to transcription in the register of succession and real estate registers (for advertising purposes) by the receiving registrar; if made before the notary, the latter will request the insertion of the declaration from the competent registrar, depositing a true copy of the deed.

It is mandatory to draw up an inventory of the assets subject to succession, in order to sort out any inheritance liabilities. The inventory (drawn up by the notary or the Registrar of the Court) is essential to help you decide whether or not to accept the inheritance.

If you are already in the material availability of the goods, the inventory must be drawn up within three months from the date on which you learned to have become an heir or since the succession was opened; after it is drafted, you will have forty days to decide whether or not to accept the inheritance. Once any debts are welded, you will be free to dispose of what is left and you will not be held responsible for any further debts of the deceased.

If you are a foreigner or reside abroad, given the difficulty of drawing up the inventory, the Italian law provides for a 10-year deadline for making the declaration beneficiary. Once you have made it, however, you will have three months to draw up the inventory and forty days after filing it to proceed with the acceptance.


What documents are needed for the declaration?

To accept an inheritance under benefit of inventory, you will need to make a valid declaration providing:

– your ID document and fiscal code;

– the testator’s death certificate;

– copy of the eventual will;

– code of the tax code of the deceased;

– certified copy of the judge’s authorization (for minors, interdicted or disabled).


Let us know if we can help.


Our English and French-speaking lawyers have gained solid experience in cross-border inheritance matters: if you have received an inheritance in Italy and need assistance, contact us for a free consultation.