Swiss inheritance law covers all the different constellations and situations that can arise in inheritance cases.
The topic is correspondingly complex. Anyone wanting to know about the subject in detail must be familiar with
and understand some legal terminology. The most important terms are explained below.
1. Marital Property Regime
Legal system for dividing assets between married couples. The ordinary marital property regime is known as sharing
of acquired property. Contractual marital property regimes are community of property and separation of property.
Separation of property as an extraordinary marital property regime can also be ordered by a judge.
2. Own Property
Own property refers to those assets that, under sharing of acquired property, belonged to a spouse at the time of
the marriage or that pass to him/her free of charge during the marriage, such as inheritances and gifts. It also
includes property intended for personal use, claims for satisfaction, and replacements acquired for own property.
Under community of property, by law and in the absence of any provision to the contrary, own property only includes
personal items and claims for satisfaction.
3. Acquired Property
The acquired property of each spouse includes those assets acquired through labor during the marriage, that is,
in particular, employment income and replacement income (pensions), proceeds from own property, and replacements
acquired for acquired property.
4. Division of Marital Property
Upon dissolution of the marital property regime, i.e. on the death of a spouse, in the event of divorce or agreement
to a different marital property regime, the marital assets will be divided in accordance with the law or the
provisions of any marriage contract. Assignment of own property, distribution of acquired property under sharing of
acquired property or of joint marital property under community of property.
5. Parentela System
Legal regulation of succession by relatives: first parentela: descendants or their descendants, second parentela:
parents or their descendants, third parentela: grandparents or their descendants. Inheritance law stops at members
of the grandparental line. In addition to the legal heirs, surviving spouses and surviving registered partners
receive a share of the inheritance.
6. Last Will
Legal instrument for disposition upon death: determines the devolution of an estate, legacies, arrangements for the
division of inheritance, appointment of the executor, etc. Formal requirements that are to be complied with exactly.
7. Inheritance Contract
An inheritance contract (certified by a notary public and signed by two witnesses) between the testator and his or
her future heirs allows the former to freely determine how his or her assets are distributed. Heirs entitled to
statutory shares may legally waive their entitlement to the same.
8. Compulsory Portion
The law obliges the testator to distribute a specific share of the estate, known as the compulsory portion, to
specific persons (descendants, spouse or registered partner, and parents).