With reference to marriage and partnership, it is important to highlight that Italian legislation applies different provisions for different casesdetermined by the regime under which spouses were married, as follows:
– Spouses married under regime of communion of assets: at the death of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse inherits the undivided half of all assets included in the communion. Excluded from such assets is anything that has been received as a gift or through inheritance by one of the spouses during the course of the marriage.
– Spouses married under regime of separation of assets: only assets exclusively in the name of the deceased spouse are taken into consideration in the succession procedure. Therefore should the house of residence be in the name of both spouses (and should they not have any children), it will be inherited at 50%. On the other hand a house bought by the deceased in his/her sole name will be inherited at 100% by the surviving spouse. The bank accounts, if not in the name of both spouses, will be inherited at 100% by the surviving spouse (italian inheritance rights).
– Spouses married under regime of separation by mutual consent: in case of mutual consent, the surviving spouse keeps all the rights over assets considered part of the succession.
– Spouses married but under judicial separation: should the spouse considered liable for the separation be granted a monthly maintenance payment by the courts at time of the legal separation (pursuant to art. 548, par. 2 of the Italian Civil Code), he/she will be entitled to retain a lifelong monthly payment, or for as long as there is no change in the economic circumstances of the surviving spouse and always provided that the inheritance assets are sufficient to guarantee this lifelong payment.
– Divorce: in case of divorce, the surviving spouse loses all rights to inheritance, but the Decree Absolute must have already been issued prior to the death of a spouse.
– Cohabitation/ Common-law Partnership: unfortunately Italy does not recognize any rights for unmarried partners. Therefore they can only inherit in cases of a testamentary succession and for the available quota reserved by the Law. To avoid unpleasant and complicated situations for a surviving partner, who will not be recognized as an heir by Italian law, it is essential for partners to draft a Will in order to clearly express their wishes.
A Guide to Italian Inheritance law: All the information you need to Italian Succession