An increasing number of Swiss people are renouncing their inheritance, due to their parents leaving their estates in debt upon their deaths. If they disclaim the inheritance, they refuse to accept what has been left to them. In the past five years, the number of inheritance renunciations has shot up by 30%, with more than 5,800 cases in 2015. (RTS/swissinfo.ch)
An inheritance can be disclaimed within the first three months after the death of the testator, if it’s feared that the estate’s debts are likely to exceed the assets. It costs CHF100 ($106) to file the paperwork for this. A disclaimed inheritance is equivalent to bankruptcy, so it is the bankruptcy authority that handles the dossiers.
Information about a deceased person's financial circumstances can be obtained from their last tax return, from bank statements or by getting a certificate from the debt enforcement register. If someone’s financial position is unclear, people inheriting an estate can request that a public inventory be made within one month of the death.
Nicole and her sister were confronted with this when their parents died. Years spent in a care home had eaten away at their parents’ savings, leaving the estate in debt by CHF7,500. Nicole and her sister renounced the inheritance, and after all the debts were paid off, they still received a balance of CHF4,070.