Essential Facts on Inheritance and Succession Law

When a loved one dies they no longer have control over their material assets and possessions, in some situations they may execute a will or trust to explain their wishes for distributing their assets. In this blog we introduce you to the essential laws on inheritance and succession in Switzerland.

When a deceased person leaves a ‘will’ after his death, the legal document outlines how he intends to distribute his material assets. If there is no will or prepared document left behind in many situations the authorities will determine how to distribute the person’s assets, and this is where succession law comes into the picture.

Intestate Succession

Unrepresented property is also referred to as intestate succession. Intestate succession takes place when the survivors inherit the property and assets of the deceased person. The inheritance is laid down in order of surviving spouse, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. If none of the close relatives of the deceased person exist then the entire estate and material assets go to the government.

In Switzerland cohabitants are not considered as statutory heirs, they are not entitled to inherit anything after their partners death. Even if there is a will there is a limit on how much they can inherit, this depends on the statutory entitlements that have to be paid to parents and/or close relatives.

How To Make A Contract Of Succession

When you make a contract of succession during your lifetime you clearly outline how your wealth and assets will be distributed. There are two separate forms of contract of succession the first is known as positive contract of succession, which you can present to another person to leave your estate or bequest to that person or another third party. The second is an inheritance renunciation contract where you can renounce your rights for inheritance. When making a contract of succession it is advisable to authenticate such official documents under the jurisdiction of a lawyer.

Trustee And Executor

A trustee is an individual in charge of the assets held in the trust. An executor on the other hand, is the person named in a will and appointed by the court to settle the estate under the court’s supervision. If you are asked to be a trustee of executor to administer someone’s estate upon their death, you will need to inform all those who are named as beneficiaries. Once you have the legal authority to do so, it will be your responsibility to distribute the assets according to the law exactly as directed in the will or trust.

Disclaiming Your Right To Inherit

If you feel that inheriting property or assets will leave you with debt or you are doubtful about the financial assets of the deceased you have the right to disclaim the inheritance within the first three months following death. The process for disclaiming an inheritance involves sending a registered letter to the individual in charge at the deceased residence; the inheritance will then pass to the person in line by law. If none of the heirs accept the inheritance, the bankruptcy office will liquidate the estate.

Certificate of Inheritance

A certificate of inheritance usually saves you a lot of hurdles when it comes to withdrawing money from the deceased bank account, or when you need to make use of his valuable assets. In Switzerland you can request a certificate of inheritance from the canton, depending on the canton you live in, you will be required to take the matter to the commune office, the district prefecture will be responsible for processing the requirements. To obtain a certificate of inheritance you must provide valid and authenticated documents i.e. copy of death certificate, proof of inheritance entitlement, proof that you did not disclaim your inheritance.

FERZ SA will provide you with expert legal advice that assists you with strategies for succession and estate planning call or email us to book a consultation tailored to your needs.