The family pact

What it is

In 2006 our legal system introduced the "family pact". This means that an entrepreneur may manage the generational transition of his business by transferring to one or more descendants the ownership or his holdings in the capital of the "family business", so that there can be no dispute over the inheritance.

This is an important innovation in the system of law of succession: in our country in fact the presence of family firms is quite common.

While significantly affecting the substance of the entrepreneur's testamentary succession, the family pact is a contract typical of one between living persons, which involves the immediate transfer of the family business

Characteristics

The family pact must be signed before the notary in a public document on pain of nullity and there must be the participation of those who would be “forced heirs” (i.e. the heirs who under the law cannot be excluded, such as a spouse or children) if the entrepreneur's succession were to take place at that moment. 

The agreement must provide that the beneficiaries (grantees) of the company or the equity interest in the company "compensate" the other parties to the contract with the payment of a sum corresponding to the value of the shares reserved for forced heirs (unless they forgo all or part of the compensation).

The parties may agree that the payment, in whole or in part, be made in kind, i.e. goods instead of money; in this case, the assets in kind awarded in favour of the other forced heirs (not beneficiaries of the company) "are allocated to the reserved portions due to them," i.e. they are to be considered an advance on their future inheritance.

When the entrepreneur's succession occurs, new parties may have become forced heirs after stipulation of the family pact (for example, the new spouse of a widowed or unmarried entrepreneur, new children), in which case they may demand of the family pact's grantees the payment of a sum equal to the value of the share of the inheritance reserved for them by law. 

The contract may be terminated or modified by the parties who participated: 

  1. with a different contract still in the form of a public deed; 
  2. by termination (if provided for in the family pact) exercised on the basis of a "declaration to the other contracting parties certified by a notary."