Understanding the Impact of Donations on Inheritance

Understanding the Impact of Donations on Inheritance

Donations made during one’s lifetime can significantly affect the distribution of inheritance, particularly for legal heirs such as spouses, children, and parents.

While giving a donation may seem like an act of generosity, it can also serve as a strategic means for the donor to advance the distribution of their estate, potentially bypassing the need for a will and preventing conflicts among heirs. However, not everyone realizes that donations can influence the share of inheritance each heir receives.

Under the civil code, when a donation is made to a spouse, children, or parents (known as “legal heirs”), it is considered an “advance” on the inheritance they are entitled to by law (referred to as the “legitimate portion”).

This article delves into how donations impact inheritance and how they can alter calculations of shares among heirs. Donations play a pivotal role in shaping the distribution of an estate, especially concerning legal heirs like spouses, children, and parents.

Key points covered include:

  • Rules on Inheritance: Legal heirs, including spouses, children, and parents, are entitled to a minimum share of the deceased’s estate, known as the legitimate portion. This share can be secured through testamentary provisions or donations made before death. Disinheriting a legal heir is typically only possible in cases of serious crimes or wrongdoing against the deceased.
  • Impact of Donations: Donations made to legal heirs can satisfy their legitimate share of the inheritance. For example, if a parent gifts a property to their child before passing away, it is considered an advancement on the child’s legitimate portion of the inheritance. Therefore, heirs who feel they have not received their rightful share must still consider previous donations received from the deceased.
  • Exceptions: Donors can exclude donations from the calculation of the legitimate portion by explicitly stating so in the donation deed, effectively treating it as part of the available quota of their estate. However, this requires a specific clause in the donation document dispensing it from collation.
  • Rules for Donations: Donations are governed by the Civil Code and must be made through a notarial deed in the presence of a notary and two witnesses. Failure to comply with the formalities, especially for significant donations like real estate, can render the donation null and void.
  • Challenging Donations: Heirs can contest donations if they believe the donations unfairly diminish their legitimate portion of the inheritance. However, they must wait until the donor’s death to take legal action, and they have ten years from the donor’s death to contest the inheritance division and challenge any donations.
  • Calculation of Donations: Donations are included in the estate’s assets to calculate the legitimate portion, ensuring that the shares reserved for legal heirs are respected.
  • Exceeding the Available Quota: If the value of donations surpasses the available quota of the estate, the legitimate portions may be reduced to accommodate this excess, ensuring that legal heirs receive their entitled shares.

Understanding the intricate interplay between donations and inheritance is essential for both donors and heirs, as it can significantly impact the distribution of assets and potential disputes among beneficiaries.

VGSLawyers is a law firm specialised in Family matters under Italian Law, in case you need assistance feel free to contact

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