Under Italian Law, debts of the deceased may expire and this exempts the heirs from their payment.
In order to know how many debts are related to an inheritance, it is necessary to submit a formal request to the bank where the deceased used to have one or more bank accounts, in order to obtain his account statements. The same should be done with the Tax Authority.
Once you have acknowledged the debts, you also need to know whether they are started in order to understand the relevant limitation period. Under Italian Law in order for the limitation period to elapse this must not have been interrupted by a formal reminder of payment nor by a letter before action sent either to the deceased or to the heir.
The ordinary limitation periods set forth by Italian Law are the following:
- 10 years: it is the general time limit for ordinary debts (e.g. contracts, invoices, taxes etc.);
- 5 years: it is the special time limit for certain classes of debts (e.g. compensations, salaries etc.)
In addition to these ones, there are some debts that have special limitation periods under 5 years. Therefore, you need to know the limitation period for each debt before deciding to pay them or not.
For this purpose, may we recommend to look for the assistance of an experienced lawyer and accountant who can carry out a perusal of all the estate (assets and liabilities). Our Inheritance Team would be more than happy to assist you.