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Estate planning

How will your estate be divided up when you die? What does the law say about inheritance? What rights does your spouse have to your estate? Can you treat certain heirs preferentially? What are the tax implications of inheritance? Your BCV advisor can help you answer these and other important questions with some essential estate planning.

Ensure your wishes are respected

Who inherits what?

Before dividing up your estate, lawyers will consult your marital property agreement to determine what property belongs to you and what belongs to your spouse. If you don’t have a marriage property agreement, the default arrangement (joint ownership of property acquired after the marriage) will apply. Unless you specify otherwise – such as in a will – the Swiss Civil Code will be used to determine your legal heirs.

At BCV, we can help with your estate planning using a goal-based approach.

Write a will to ensure your wishes are respected

You may want to favor a particular heir, protect your spouse, registered partner or live-in partner, or divide up your property simply and equitably. To make sure your wishes are respected, you will need to prepare a will or an inheritance pact. These legal documents let you express your final wishes (within certain limits set forth by law). For added peace of mind, you can also appoint an executor for your will.

Inheritance pacts help avoid disagreements

Inheritance pacts have to be drawn up before a notary and signed by you and by all heirs mentioned in it – so all parties must generally be on good terms. You may want to use an inheritance pact to set out your wishes for dividing up your estate if you fear there will be disagreement among your heirs.

Giving a gift to a family member

For a gift of part of your estate to be recognized for tax and legal purposes, it must be given while you are still alive and accepted by the person receiving it, and nothing can be given in return. A gift can be made at any time. However, if the gift is excessive and done within five years of your death, the amount of the gift may be reduced if it’s contested by heirs whose inheritance is reduced as a consequence.

Gifts offer certain tax advantages depending on your relationship to the person, the amount of the gift, and the canton in which you reside when you make the gift. In all cantons, a gift given to your spouse or registered partner would be tax-exempt.

Retirement and insurance products

If you would like to leave something extra to someone special – such as your spouse, live-in partner, or children – you aren't limited to just changing your marital property agreement, drawing up a will, or giving a gift. Some insurance policies let you specify the beneficiary of your choice for when you die. Speak with your BCV advisor to learn about the right solution for you.

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