|Case Study #1: Inheritance Dispute
In December 2002, a couple contacted the law offices of Alessandro Canali to request legal assistance over a
controversial family inheritance.
In 1995, the couple were two of four inheritors who had received an inheritance valued at approximately €3 million,
consisting of two real estate properties in prestigious areas of Rome (one in the historic center and one in a
residential area); a noble villa from the 17th century in the Roman countryside; and many acres of land.
The controversy had been handled by three different attorneys in succession, dragging on for seven years without
any resolution of the dispute between the couple and the two other inheritors involved.
Inheritance lawsuits are among the longest and most costly lawsuits to undertake in the Italian legal system. This is
because the Court has to estimate the value of the assets through specialists who are authorized to work with the
Court in such cases, and who are then paid a percentage of the value of the assets they are appraising.
Due to the elevated costs in this case, the couple had not yet undertaken a lawsuit, and they had changed attorneys
three times, hoping to come to an agreement with the other inheritors.
The strategy that Mr. Canali's office developed for this case:
-file a lawsuit, in order to motivate the other inheritors to come to an agreement
-come to an agreement out of court
-annul the lawsuit within the time frame allowed by the Court, in order to avoid additional and excessive expenses
Mr. Canali’s philosophy in this case was rooted in the belief that when faced with dividing an inheritance, there is
always a way to find an agreement suitable to all parties—it’s simply a matter of finding the right solution. After
starting the lawsuit, Mr. Canali’s office contacted the offices of the other inheritors’ attorneys, in order to analyze
their needs and demands in detail.
The focal point of the problem was that Mr. Canali’s clients wanted all of the properties located in Rome, while the
co-inheritors wanted at least one of the Rome properties. Mr. Canali’s office devised a plan that allowed all of the
parties to come to an agreement over this seemingly irreconcilable issue.
After numerous meetings between Mr. Canali’s clients and the other two inheritors, it was revealed that the parties
had different reasons for wanting the Rome properties: Mr. Canali’s clients were concerned exclusively with the
monetary value of the properties, while the other two inheritors wanted to have a residential apartment (even if
small) in the historic center of the city, to use as a second home.
The inheritance included only one apartment located in the historic center, a property of 200 square meters. Mr.
Canali’s office came up with a plan to divide this apartment into two separate units, one measuring 160 square
meters for the couple, and one measuring 40 square meters for the other two inheritors who wanted to use it as
their home. This way the property wouldn’t lose significant value when compared to the original unit, since in Rome
the price per square meter goes down only above certain dimensions, and therefore the property would remain
easily marketable, meeting Mr. Canali’s client’s needs. At the same time, the co-inheritors felt that their needs were
also met in that they received a residential apartment that actually increased the overall value of the inheritance.
The plan was approved by all of the inheritors and was put into action with legal and technical assistance from Mr.
Canali’s firm, to bring it into line with city building codes and urban planning laws.
In February 2004 the inheritance was therefore successfully divided. Mr. Canali’s clients received all of properties
and land inside of Rome (except for the newly-established 40 sq. meter mini-apartment) and the co-inheritors
received the property outside of Rome.