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Marital Property and Swiss Inheritance Law for Expats in Switzerland

Starting a new job abroad is both demanding and exciting, especially in a country like Switzerland with unique inheritance laws.

After a thorough job search and application process, you finally have a new employment contract in Switzerland. You’ve already researched employment conditions, the housing market, and available schools.

But have you familiarized yourself with Swiss inheritance law and marital property law? From the moment you settle in Switzerland, Swiss matrimonial property law and Swiss inheritance law automatically apply to your circumstances.

That’s unless you have never concluded a prenuptial agreement or drafted a will with a choice of law. As you can imagine, understanding the profound implications of Swiss inheritance law is crucial – especially for expats. After all, you will want to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

This blog post provides an overview of Swiss inheritance law and marital property law for expats, including:

  • Legal heirs and intestacy rules
  • Compulsory and disposable portions
  • International considerations, such as the applicable law and inheritance tax implications
  • Other particularities of Swiss inheritance law

Understanding key concepts and the multitude of factors to consider is an important first step. Putting it into place will be a task of its own, but the professionals at Deloris AG are eager to assist.

We want to help you ensure that your estate is planned in accordance with Swiss inheritance law and that your loved ones are taken care of in the event of your death.

One thing up front: even if you are young and healthy, it is important to have a will in place, especially if you are married or have assets in multiple countries. Swiss inheritance law can be complex, so let us help you craft a valid and enforceable will or contract of succession.

Swiss Inheritance Law and the Compulsory Portion

Swiss succession law provides clear rules that govern how inheritances must be divided. Who inherits your assets when you die depends largely on whether you have made a will or not.

Without a will, Swiss law designates heirs like spouses, children, and relatives based on a predetermined order. This default distribution may surprise expatriates unaware of the system.

Crafting a will or succession contract in Switzerland allows expats some freedom in choosing heirs, prioritizing spouses, or registered partners. However, legal constraints exist, and certain heirs, like spouses and children, have statutory entitlements that cannot be fully excluded.

Therefore, the ability to distribute assets in a will is limited by the statutory part, influenced by the legal heirs. Expatriates must comprehend these constraints to ensure their wishes align with Swiss inheritance law.

Key Points about Swiss Inheritance Law and Succession Rules

  • For inheritances, the jurisdiction and applicable law depend on international private law rules. Thus, either the rules of your home country or the rules of Switzerland as your country of domicile will be applicable to your estate. Consider both when estate planning.
  • Inheritance tax implications need review, as rates can also vary for spouses and children. International tax differences also matter.
  • Foreign nationals settled in Switzerland can choose Swiss law for wills. Following proper processes and getting legal advice ensures validity.
  • Legal changes modify aspects like compulsory reserves, emphasizing the need to stay updated. Consult us for optimal planning of your inheritance and marital property.

Swiss Inheritance Law Reform: Who Gets What?

The revised Swiss inheritance law came into effect on January 1, 2023. The reform aimed to allow for more flexibility when planning your inheritance, for example, by decreasing the statutory entitlement of children.

So, while the surviving spouse is still entitled to half of the legal part, the children’s statutory part has been reduced to half of their legal part, and parents no longer have a compulsory part. Understanding these recent changes is crucial for expats in Switzerland seeking clarity and control over the distribution of their assets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let us help you understand the process of crafting a will or succession contract.

About the Author

This overview 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.

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