Intestate Succession: Understanding Legal Heirs

Intestate Succession Understanding Legal Heirs

In the event of a family member’s demise, the intricate process of succession unfolds to identify heirs and allocate their respective shares. When no will is present, the Italian Civil Code governs this distribution.

This article delves into the identification and rights of legal heirs in case of death, emphasizing the distinctions between legal heirs and heirs by will.

Key Points:

  1. Who are Legal Heirs?
    Legal heirs, as per the law, are individuals entitled to a share of the deceased’s estate when no will exists. They inherit a portion of the assets and share, proportionally, the deceased’s debts.
  2. Legal Heirs vs. Will Heirs:
    Legal heirs, distinct from heirs by will, are close relatives who, with or without a will, are guaranteed a minimum share of the deceased’s estate and cannot be entirely disinherited.
  3. Dying Without a Will:
    When a person dies intestate (without a will), the Italian Civil Code determines the succession rules.
  4. Difference Between Legal Heir, Forced Heir, and Testamentary Heir:
    Legal heirs are those identified by law, forced heirs are close family entitled to a minimum share, and testamentary heirs are those specified in a will.
  5. Table of Legal Heirs and Their Shares:
    Legal heirs include the spouse (even if separated without blame), children (both biological and adopted), and parents in the absence of children. They share the estate proportionally.
  6. Challenging the Succession:
    Legal heirs who haven’t received their minimum share (legittima) can contest the estate division within ten years of the succession opening. They also have the right to contest any donations made by the deceased.

In summary, the legal heirs, outlined by the Italian Civil Code, inherit a proportional share of the deceased’s estate. This legal framework ensures fair distribution among the surviving spouse, children, and parents, even in the absence of a will.

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