Inheriting a property abroad, especially in a country renowned for its climate, heritage and cuisine such as Italy is a very attractive prospect. The strict laws of succession in Italy frequently result in the estate of a distant Italian relative being inherited by a British citizen who may not even realise that this can happen. It is no surprise that many people are delighted to have inherited a property in Italy, it is a wonderful asset to own.

However, there are a number of steps you must take immediately as, unlike in the UK, you step straight into the responsibilities attached to the property in the shape of taxes and debts. The starting point is to acquire a Grant of Probate which can be obtained from the Italian authorities and it must be sought within one year of the death. Other legal formalities need to be dealt with as soon as possible and it can be a daunting task to wade through Italian bureaucracy; the sheer volume of paperwork alone that needs to be dealt with can take up a significant amount of time. If you do not speak Italian it can complicate matters even more and the safest course of action is to instruct an English speaking Italian lawyer with experience in dealing with the demands of Italian probate.

There are quite complex rules and regulations governing the beneficiaries and the estate itself in Italy; the entire estate of the deceased has to be itemised, regardless of where the assets are located. Following Brexit the UK will be regarded as a non-EU Member State and the tax liabilities will alter.

In order to obtain a Grant of Probate the following documents are required:

-· the deceased's death certificate,

-· the family certificate relating to the deceased, together with that of the heirs and legatees

-· a copy of the will in Italian, if any exists, due to the prescribed laws of session many Italians do not make a will.

Once the submission of the Italian Grant of Probate has been made, you or your lawyers will be required to submit, within 30 days, an application for the "voltura catastale", to the Agency of the Territory. This application is necessary for the variation of the "cadastral" details in the registration deeds of the property through the "voltura" application process, and will allow the inherited property to be transferred into your name and will in the financial administration in Italy that the assets (both land and properties) have been transferred from the deceased to his or her heirs.

There is the option, under the laws of succession in Italy that if the liabilities attached to the property you have inherited are too large for you to deal with or you do not want the property you can renounce the entire inheritance. However, to refuse an asset such as a property needs to be considered carefully and the expert lawyers at Giambrone would strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice in order to fully understand the position and allow you to make a rational and informed decision. A property is often the most significant asset any person owns and a decision to renounce such an asset must be made after very careful consideration.

The Lawyers at Giambrone, both in the London office and the Italian offices can assist with the most complex situations, including contested wills and can guide you so that you avoid any inadvertent breaches of process and lead you to the smooth transition of ownership of your new property.

If you would like to know more about how to deal with a property you have inherited in Italy please click here

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.