Inheritance in Switzerland

Switzerland Inheritance  follows a very intricate set of rules, making it a complex and often confusing subject for those who aren’t familiar with the country’s laws. Switzerland is a civil law country meaning that laws are written down and based on civil codes, which is why the legal system operates differently than those in common law countries. As a result, how inheritance works in this country can differ greatly from how it works in other countries. In Switzerland, inheritance laws are determined by the Cantonal or local law of the particular canton or district where the estate is located. This means that each canton may have different laws and regulations on who is eligible to inherit, how much they can inherit, and when they can claim their inheritance. For example, in some cantons, children are automatically entitled to inherit a proportionate part of their deceased parent’s estate, whereas in other cantons, the inheritance portion is predetermined by law. Each canton

Switzerland Inheritance: An Overview

Switzerland, known for its chocolates, watches, and alpine beauty, also has a unique approach to inheritance. Given its federal structure, inheritance law is largely governed by the Swiss Civil Code, but taxation varies by canton.

Basics of Swiss Inheritance Law

In the absence of a will, Swiss law has default provisions in place.

Legal Heirs and Statutory Quotas

Switzerland recognizes the following as legal heirs:

  1. Descendants (e.g., children, grandchildren)
  2. Spouse or registered partner
  3. Parents

Each group has a specific statutory quota, ensuring certain portions of the estate. For instance, if a deceased leaves behind a spouse and children, the estate gets divided amongst them based on predefined shares.

Inheritance Tax in Switzerland

The Swiss Confederation does not impose a federal inheritance tax, but each of the 26 cantons has its own regulations and rates. Generally, direct descendants (children, for example) benefit from significant reductions or even total exemption.

Drafting a Will: Why and How

In the land of precision, it’s no surprise that having a clear will is beneficial.

The Importance of a Will

Having a will ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes and can reduce potential disputes among heirs.

Essential Components of a Swiss Will

While drafting a will, make sure to:

  • Clearly identify yourself and the beneficiaries
  • Define your assets and how you wish them to be allocated
  • Appoint an executor if desired
  • Date and sign the document

Inheriting Property

Swiss landscapes are breathtaking, but what about inheriting a piece of this paradise?

Real Estate Inheritance

Inheriting real estate in Switzerland follows the same principles as other assets. If multiple heirs inherit a property, they become co-owners.

Selling Inherited Property

If you decide to sell, remember that capital gains tax might apply. Rates and conditions vary depending on the canton.

Role of Swiss Notaries

Notaries in Switzerland play a pivotal role in the inheritance process.

How Notaries Assist in Inheritance

They can:

  • Assist in drafting wills
  • Offer legal advice on inheritance matters
  • Facilitate property transfer

Wrapping it Up

Inheriting in Switzerland, like its famed chocolates, can be complex and layered. Yet, with the right knowledge, it becomes easier to navigate. Ensure you seek local expertise, especially given the cantonal differences, and remember: clarity today can prevent complications tomorrow.


  1. Can I disinherit my children in Switzerland?
    • No, Swiss law protects the rights of direct descendants by guaranteeing them a minimum statutory quota.
  2. What happens if someone dies without a will in Switzerland?
    • The assets will be distributed based on the legal hierarchy of heirs established by Swiss law.
  3. How long does the inheritance process typically take?
    • This varies based on the complexity of the estate, but typically, it can take several months to a few years.
  4. Do I need to live in Switzerland to inherit property there?
    • No, non-residents can inherit property. However, different regulations might apply if you decide to sell or keep the property.
  5. Can I write my will in English?
    • While you can draft a will in any language, having a Swiss-approved German, French, or Italian version ensures clarity in legal proceedings.