Did you know that 70% of adults do not have a will and without one the family home and assets may not be distributed according to your wishes ? Our specialist wills lawyer can help safeguard your interests in the knowledge that your estate is taken care of when you die.
In Switzerland, private international law provides that the Swiss judicial or administrative authorities of the last domicile of the deceased are competent to take the necessary steps to settle the estate and have jurisdiction over inheritance disputes. A foreigner may, however, submit his estate by will or inheritance agreement to the law of one of its national states. This choice is obsolete if at the time of his or her death, he or her no longer has that nationality or acquired Swiss nationality.
In the event of death in Switzerland, in case deceased spouse did not submit his or her estate to the law of another national state, the deceased’s family (spouse and descendents) will inherit in accordance with the Swiss rules and procedures.
Thus, it is advisable to prepare in advance for the challenges you will encounter at time of death.
We offer the following advice and services:
When a person dies it is essential to establish whether there is a will or not and if the deceased chose an executor. In Switzerland, the testator may prepare its will with a lawyer and appoint one or more persons with capacity to act to execute the will. The executors’ function is to represent the testator’s wishes and, in particular, to administer the estate, settle debts left by the testator, distribute legacies and divide the estate in accordance with the testator’s instructions or as required by law. If your relative did not leave a will then you might want to get probate to become the administrator of their estate.
We can help you to prepare your will and we may be appointed as executor under Swiss law. We can also help you in the administration of an estate.
We also advise on all aspects of lasting powers of attorney in case the testator lose the ability to manage his or her own affairs as a result of an accident, illness or dementia. Alternatively you may want to contest the will of a relative who has excluded you from a will or who have not have been mentally capable when writing the will. We are here to provide you with straight forward advice in these situations.
Once death occured, some relatives, such as spouses and children, have a right to claim an inheritance and can even do so despite the express terms of a will. In Switzerland, usually each spouse – or registered partner – automatically owns half of what husband and wife both earned during the marriage. Once the community property is shared, the surviving spouse has the right to claim half of the deceased spouse’s estate. Remainder of estate devolves in accordance with will and Swiss law of succession.
Once the surviving spouse – or registered partner – claimed his or her part of the deceased spouse’s estate, usually the remainder of estate will devolve to the children of the deceased. If there is no spouse or children, the parents and their issue inherit. If there are no parents or their issue, then the grandparents and their issue inherit. If none of these relatives survives, the entire estate goes to the state.
Even if you make a will, you cannot override a family member’s statutory entitlement. This is true regardless of the terms of the will, but provisions of law may apply only if the heirs petitions the court for his or her share per the will or statute. However, heirs can renounce their statutory entitlements by signing an inheritance renunciation contract.
Cohabitees are not regarded as statutory heirs and thus inherit nothing on their partner’s death. Even if there is a will, there is a limit to how much they can inherit if statutory entitlements (minimum amounts under the law of succession) have to be paid to issue or parents.
When a relative or loved one dies, our firm advise on all aspects of disputes over inheritance. If you find yourself not properly provided for on the death of a relative then you may be able to make a successful claim under Swiss law. We can assist you if you are a beneficiary of an estate and if someone else is contesting the will.
We can also advise you on all types of trusts. Trusts do not need to be complicated and are an effective way of controlling money and property. They help to preserve wealth for the next generation and may be part of your tax planning. Trusts can be set up during your lifetime or you can simply leave instructions to create a trust in your will. We can advise you on all aspects of trusts including administering an existing trust.
Given the complex nature of Swiss laws of succession and the ways they interact with other areas of estate planning, it is recommanded to consult with an attorney before preparing a will, claiming an inheritance through court proceedings or opening any other actions in probate.
Our experience in real rights, civil and commercial law and private international law is of great help to resolve problems related to large estates (significant assets scattered in different jurisdictions) because these estates almost always require resolution of issues which not only fall within the scope of law of succession.