Creating a last will and testament is crucial in ensuring your estate is divided according to your wishes. In Switzerland, only one in three residents above the age of 45 has a will.
However, about 30 percent of these individuals admit their will is no longer current. Regular updates to this vital document are essential, especially for expats navigating life’s milestones across borders.
For the benefit of your loved ones, it’s crucial to ensure that your estate will be divided according to your wishes. This means not only writing your will but also always keeping it up to date. This is particularly important for expats who frequently move their work and life beyond national borders.
Key Life Events That Should Prompt a Will Review
Certain life events should trigger a review of your testamentary dispositions. These include:
- Birth of a child or grandchild
- Buying or selling a house
- Reaching retirement age
- Receiving a large amount of assets (e.g., inheritance)
- Significant changes in assets or income
- Occurrence of a chronic illness
- Moving to another canton or country
- Legislative changes to inheritance law
Understanding the Swiss Inheritance Law Amendments
In Switzerland, significant changes to inheritance law came into effect on 1 January 2023. These changes allow for further dispositions as the children’s entitlement to the compulsory portion has been reduced, giving the testator more flexibility for testamentary arrangements.
It’s important to note that these changes apply to wills written before this date. For instance, if the children have been placed on the compulsory portion in their parent’s favor, their share is automatically reduced from 3/4 to 1/2 of their legal entitlement to inheritance. Therefore, reviewing existing wills is currently particularly important to prevent an undesired inheritance outcome.
Navigating Inheritance Laws Across Borders
Moving to another country has many implications, including changes in terms of inheritance law. Each country has its own inheritance law, so if you’re moving your life center to Switzerland, it’s crucial to carefully clarify the effects this change will have on your inheritance orders.
This is the only way to ensure that everything will happen as you have ordered and imagined when you pass away.
Crafting Your Last Will
Swiss law does not recognize joint wills. Each person must write their own will, even in a marriage or registered partnership. Here are some steps to follow when crafting your last will and testament:
Remember, you must be at least 18 years old and mentally competent to make your own decisions. The will is only valid if it is handwritten from A to Z. You can change or revoke it at any time.
Alternatively, a public will can be written by an authenticator, i.e. a notary, with the involvement of two independent witnesses. This ensures that the will is formally correct.
Frequently Asked Questions
About the Author
This comprehensive guide is written by Susanne Bereuter, an esteemed legal professional specializing in Swiss inheritance law. With extensive experience in navigating the complexities of Swiss legal frameworks, Susanne Bereuter provides expert insights to expats in Switzerland.