The Italian Law of succession is applied differently according to the different circumstances of marriage, communion of assets or co-habitation.
Couples married under the communion of assets at the death of one of the spouses the surviving spouse inherits the undivided half of all assets included in the union of marriage. Any gifts of inheritance received during the course of the marriage are excluded from these assets.
Couples married under separation of assets, only assets in the name of the deceased are taken into account. Should the property be in the name of both spouses (with no childeren) it will be inherited at 50%, a house bought solely by the deceased spouse in his or her sole name will be inherited 100% by the surviving spouse.
Couples married but separated under the regime of mutual consent; in case of mutual consent the surviving spouse maintains all the rights to assets considered part of the inheritance.
Couples married but under juidicial separation, should the spouse considered liable for separation be granted a monthly maintainance payment by the courts at the time of the legal separation (pursuant to art. 584, par. 2 of the Italian Civil Code) he or she will be entitled to continue and retain financial support in the form of a lifelong monthly payment from the estate if inheritance assets are sufficient to guarantee this payment and as long as there is no change in the economic circumstances of the surviving spouse.
In case of divorce, the surviving spouse loses all rights to inheritance as long as the decree absolute was passed and published prior to the death of the spouse.
Co-habitation, common law husband and wife and same sex marriages unfortunately are not recognised or accepted under the Italian Inheritance Law. They can only inherit under cases of testamentary succession and only then a percentange of the assets reserved as the available quota by the law.
It is better to seek legal advice whether you are an existing property owner in Italy or are planning on investing here, this will help eliminate future problems and unnecessary stress for your loved ones. The matter of death and inheritance is such a sensitive issue therefore it is essential for partners to draft a Will.