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100 years out of date Inheritance law to move into 21st century

Stamps at the wills and estates office in the city of Bern


The Swiss cabinet wants to update the country’s inheritance law, which dates from more than 100 years ago, to take into account changes in family structures. This includes people being able to bequeath larger sums to common law partners.

Partners who are not married should not, however, be equal in law to those who are married, the cabinet said on Fridayexternal link as it set out its proposal for changes to the inheritance law. But it would give people more freedom in choosing heirs.

Currently people only have limited freedom in dividing up estates.external link Children, spouses and in certain cases, parents, are all legally entitled to a minimum share of an inheritance. This cannot be altered via a will.

The cabinet said that it found this current formula too rigid and that it was no longer applicable to modern ways of living. That's why it wanted to reduce these statutory family entitlements of a deceased’s estate.

The proposal will now go out to consultation, before being debated by parliament.

No parents’ portion

Under the changes, children should only be allowed to claim half of the inheritance instead of three quarters, as is now the practice. Spouses can claim a quarter, rather than a half, and parents will no longer receive anything.

This would allow partners or step children to be remembered, but only if the testator has expressly set this out in writing before their death.

Changes in technology have also been taken into account. If there is an immediate risk of death, a person will be allowed to make an emergency will via smartphone video, for example.

Current inheritance law in Switzerland dates from 1907 and has only been revised selectively over the years. The modernisation of the legislation comes following a request by parliament. The consultation period lasts until June 20, 2016. and agencies

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