What is the procedure if I inherit a car from an Italian estate?

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Unfortunately, beneficiaries of an Italian estate who are not resident in Italy often underestimate the issues and potential complications that can arise when inheriting a car.

In accordance with Italian law, when someone passes away, the beneficiaries become the owners of the deceased’s asset immediately upon “Acceptance”. This can either be implied (when the beneficiaries carry out activities to inherit the deceased’s asset, e.g. they use the deceased’s car), or explicit, with a formal acceptance, which is usually made by notarial Deed or “scrittura privata autenticata”.

From the moment the inheritance is accepted, the beneficiaries will therefore become liable for any event which is linked to the car (e.g. should the car be parked in a public car park with no insurance, the beneficiaries will be deemed liable to pay any applicable fines).

So, what to do?

As the beneficiaries are directly liable for any outstanding payments, even those not made by the deceased prior to the date of death, the first steps to take include ensuring that the car insurance payments and the “bolli” are up to date.

Furthermore, the heirs cannot dispose of the car, nor demolish it, if those payments are outstanding.

What is the procedure to inherit a car?

  • The beneficiaries must lodge the deceased’s inheritance tax declaration (occasionally the IHT declaration is not necessary when the value of the estate is below Euro 100.000 and there are no immovable properties within the deceased’s assets).
  • If there is no Will to determine who inherits the car, intestacy rules will apply. The car may therefore be appointed to more than one beneficiary in equal shares. The devolution to a specific beneficiary is usually decided by the heirs with a common agreement and, if no agreement is reached, the division is usually made by a Judge (this is a scenario that beneficiaries should avoid, as additional costs and delays can be incurred).
  • To inherit the car a formal acceptance of the Inheritance must be made by all the heirs, by completing a form called “accettazione di eredita’” provided by the car agency (namely ACI or PRA). The acceptance of the inheritance is a formal declaration made by the heirs that requires certain formalities: the heirs’ signature on the acceptance must, in fact, be authenticated by an authorised individual such as an employee from the car agency itself (ACI), by the Notary, or by the public official of the local townhall.

The acceptance must then be officially registered (trascrizione) with the PRA within 60 days to have legal effects. The registration of the acceptance is the legal condition to become the new owner of the car. This is the legal evidence that the beneficiary is entitled to become the new owner, confirming the link between the previous owner, the deceased, and the heir.

To register the Acceptance the car agency must be provided with:

  • The Will, if applicable;
  • The acceptance of the inheritance;
  • Dichiarazione sostitutiva;
  • Documents in connection with the car (such as atto di proprieta’ and libretto di circolazione);

The above list may not be exhaustive as cases may differ.

If the car is transferred or sold from the heirs to one specific beneficiary, the Deed of transfer must also be registered with the car agency (ACI) the registration of the Acceptance and the Deed of transfer are often registered contextually.

After providing the ACI with the required documents, a fee of circa Euro 60 must be paid and the car will be transferred to the relevant beneficiary.

Please bear in mind that the name on the insurance must also be changed, therefore the heir should contact the insurance company of the deceased to take out a new insurance policy under his/her own name.

Should you require any assistance when inheriting a car or, more broadly, with an Italian succession please do contact us and we will be happy to guide you through the whole process.