Accettazione eredità

Last updated on 27 March 2020 by the Italian Ministry of Justice


The inheritance is acquired through a deed of acceptance. However, the acquisition of a bequest is automatic and requires no acceptance.
The acceptance is retroactive to the opening of the succession and, once the inheritance is acquired with the acceptance it can no longer be renounced. The acceptance cannot be subject to conditions or terms; the right of acceptance cannot be transferred to others but can be transmitted upon death. The right to accept the inheritance is time-barred ten years after the day the succession is opened.
Various types of acceptance can be distinguished:

  • Express acceptance: this is made by an official or private deed;
  • Tacit acceptance: this is made through behaviour and acts that an individual could perform only as heir, and which express his intention to accept the inheritance (e.g. commencing a lawsuit to obtain the division of the estate, paying the estate's debts, etc.)
  • Implied acceptance (or statutory acceptance): this is a (plain and simple) acceptance provided by statute in the case that the successor possesses the inherited assets and does not take the inventory within three months of the opening of the succession or notice of the devolution of the estate. A successor is also a plain and simple heir if after taking the inventory he does not declare that he accepts the inheritance under the benefit of inventory within forty days (Article 485 of the Italian Civil Code)
  • Plain and simple acceptance: this is acceptance of the inheritance without any reserve, by which the deceased's estate ‘merges’ with the heir's estate and becomes a single whole. This means the heir may be obliged to pay the deceased's debts with his own means should the assets of the inheritance prove insufficient;
  • Acceptance under benefit of inventory: this is a form of acceptance that enables the deceased's estate to be kept distinct from the heir's. This means the heir cannot be obliged to pay the deceased's debts with his own means should the assets of the inheritance prove insufficient. It can only be express and is made by declaration received from a notary or the clerk of the court. For the declaration of acceptance under benefit of inventory it is necessary to apply to the office of the clerk of the court where the deceased had his last place of residence. It is also possible to apply to a notary who will then transmit the deed to the court, which will have it registered with the Territorial Office.

To have the desired effect, the declaration has to be preceded or followed by the inventory or complete list of the assets and rights inherited. For the heir in possession of the inherited property, the time-limit to effect the acceptance under the benefit of inventory is three months from the deceased's death.
Acceptance under the benefit of inventory is compulsory when the heir is a minor, interdicted, an emancipated child, or partially interdicted. In such cases, the acceptance also requires the Tutelary Judge's affixed authorisation.

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