Inheritance in Switzerland: Expats should make sure they know how the inheritance tax in Switzerland can be applied to their assets. Everything in Switzerland, all the rules vary by canton. So we will provide you with all the details related to this topic and give you all the information.
Inheritance in Switzerland
Expats living in Switzerland can choose whether the Swiss inheritance tax law or the laws of their country of origin should apply in the event of their death. If someone dies without leaving a will or expressing a preference, the inheritance tax laws in Switzerland apply by default.
Swiss inheritance law includes enforced inheritance rules, which means that certain relatives cannot be deprived of inheritance even through the last will.
This means that at least 50% of the estate goes to the spouse or registered partner, and 75% of the remaining half goes to children and grandchildren.
Any legal heirs who receive an inheritance under enforced inheritance can object to a Swiss will that deprives them of heritage or does not honor the necessary amounts. However, they can also give up their statutory rights by signing a contract of inheritance assignment.
Switzerland’s Pension Inheritance Law | Inheritance in Switzerland
In some cases, spouses and children can inherit part of their relative’s pension. If the decedent has paid AHV contributions for at least one year, a surviving spouse, registered same-sex partner, or child may be eligible for an orphan’s inheritance pension.
A partner can get 948 – 1896 francs per month, while children can call 474-948 Swiss francs.
If the allowances are already there, then the heirs’ pension will increase by 20%.
Swiss inheritance tax
- If you are an heir and have inherited something under Swiss inheritance law, there is no need to accept it.
- Acceptance of inheritance.
- Refusal of inheritance.
- Acceptance, subject to available inventory.
- The latter option will be used if you are unsure of the financial position of the deceased and are concerned that debts will outweigh the assets you inherit.
- The decision must be made within three months of the date of death; Otherwise, the inheritance is assumed to have been accepted.
- Swiss inheritance tax for non-residents.
How much will I pay inheritance tax?
Inheritance tax rates vary between the Swiss cantons; Some share inheritance tax responsibilities with municipalities, while some impose taxes on their own. There is no inheritance tax at all in one canton (Schwitz).
The taxable rate also varies depending on the value of the assets and the relationship between the heir and the deceased.
The person who inherits the estate pays the fee, but the tax does not apply to personal and household goods.
Rates vary from 0 to 55% and tend to be lower for close relatives.
Information about inheritance in Switzerland
- In Switzerland, inheritances are very unevenly distributed because wealth is already unevenly distributed. At least a third of the population inherits nothing, and in 35% of other legacies, the sums are less than 50,000 francs.
- The order of heirs depends on the degree of kinship: second-degree relatives have the right to inherit your property if you do not have living first-degree relatives; If you have neither first nor second-degree relatives nor spouse who are still alive after your death, your third-degree relatives have the right to inherit from you.
- The degree of legal kinship of the legal heirs also determines the legal inheritance that will automatically devolve upon them in the absence of a will if you have a living spouse/partner.
- If you have first-degree relatives, then half of your estate will automatically be divided equally between them and your spouse/partner the second half of the estate will pass to you;
- If you have no children or offspring but have surviving second-degree relatives, then one-fourth of the estate will automatically pass to them, and three-quarters of the estate will go to your spouse/partner.
- If you do not have to survive first or second-degree relatives, the entire estate will automatically pass to your spouse/partner.
Certificate of inheritance Switzerland:
If you do not want to accept the inheritance, the heirs can obtain a certificate of inheritance from the Swiss authorities to prove their right to inherit. Financial institutions need this certification before funds can be withdrawn from the deceased’s accounts.
Certification costs vary by canton but can be as high as a few thousand Swiss francs. Processing typically takes six to twelve weeks.
Inheritance tax for some regions in Switzerland
Inheritance tax in Bern
Spouses, children, and grandchildren are not subject to tax in Bern. Other heirs are divided into three groups:
- The lowest rate (group 1) with a multiple of six: parents, grandparents, siblings, and those who lived with the deceased for more than ten years.
- Average rate (group 2) with a tax multiple of 11: nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, and in-laws.
- The highest rate (Group 3) with a tax multiplier of 16: Everyone else.
- There is a tax exemption of 12,000 Swiss francs. Prices range from 1 to 40%.
- Inheritance tax in Zurich
Spouses and grandchildren are not subject to inheritance tax in Zurich. Other heirs are divided into six groups:
- Grandparents and stepchildren.
- In the footsteps of the fathers.
- Uncles, aunts, daughters, sons, any other person.
- Additionally, there are other allowances.
- Parents: 200,000 Swiss francs.
- Dependents with disabilities: 30,000 Swiss francs.
- Fiancés, siblings, grandparents, stepchildren, godparents, adopted children, and those employed as domestic help for more than ten years: CHF 15,000.
Related to inheritance in Switzerland
Inheritance in Switzerland: The estate tax can be applied in Switzerland if you buy Swiss property, so estate planning is vital. The rules for inheritance tax and what you also pay can vary depending on the Swiss canton you live in.
If you are in the process of planning for later life, you may also find it helpful to consult our guides to retirement in Switzerland and your estate planning in Switzerland.