1. Inventory of property belonging to a married couple or civil partners
Married couples or civil partners can call on the notary to establish an inventory of their property. This authenticated deed is mainly used as evidence and informs the married couple or civil partners, their heirs and, in certain cases, third parties, about the ownership of assets featured on it, the legal nature of these assets (own property, jointly owned property acquired in common, common assets), or their economic value. Usually attached to a marriage contract, it can also be drafted independently.
2. Marriage contract adapting or modifying the matrimonial settlement or agreement on property for civil partners
It is necessary to settle relations concerning the assets of couples that are married or bound by a civil partnership. It goes without saying that the law (Swiss civil code or Federal Act on civil partnerships) sets out a basic settlement in each of the two cases: for married couples, a settlement confirming joint ownership of assets acquired after the marriage, for registered partners, division of property. Couples – heterosexual or homosexual – can modify the applicable legal settlement. The aim for them is to agree to a marriage contract, an agreement on assets, necessarily by authenticated document. They can then proceed with ad hoc adaptations of the ordinary settlement or adopt another type of settlement depending on their specific situation. They can then agree to a communal estate or division of property (married couples) or specific rules, for example similar to joint ownership of assets acquired after marriage (civil partners). It should be noted that the right to a family name underwent a small revolution on January 1, 2013, while marriage for all comes into force on July 1, 2022. From this date, no more registered partnerships can be concluded. Partners who were registered before July 1, 2022, may, at any time, declare together that they wish to convert their registered partnership into a marriage. The declaration of conversion can be made as of July 1, 2022, at any civil status office in Switzerland and at the competent Swiss representation abroad.
3. Inheritance scheduling measures (donations, inheritance advance, wills, inheritance agreement)
A donation is a contract whereby a person leaves all or some of his/her assets to another person, without anything in return, by opposing the sale. If the donation is real property, the contract should be drafted in authenticated form, in the presence of a notary.
An inheritance advance is a gift (donation, dowry, preliminary expenses, release of debt and other similar advantages) by one person to one or several of his/her legal heirs, before his/her death, with the aim of creating, securing, or improving the establishment. If the inheritance advance involves a building, an authenticated contract is required.
A will is a document that sets out in writing a person’s “last wishes”, for example another attribution of assets than that set out by the law. The will can be in authenticated form, it is then executed by a notary, or written, dated and signed in the hand of the testator.
The inheritance agreement is a contract between two or several people, typical of Swiss law, allowing them to make arrangements in the event of death, following the example of a will, but which can only be drafted in authenticated form, in the presence of a notary. There are attribution and renunciation agreements. In principle, the arrangements made in an inheritance agreement can only be modified or cancelled with the consent of all parties to the deed.
Before thinking about one’s succession, it can be useful to take measures in consider to one’s incapacity of judgement. Namely in form of a lasting power of attorney.
4. Inheritance liquidation (inheritance certificate, inventory, division)
The notary in charge of liquidating a succession has several tasks, in particular:
• drawing up the inventory and filing the inheritance declaration with the tax office. The inventory is an authenticated deed listing all the goods making up the deceased’s succession (assets and liabilities) and describing the devolution of the succession;
• establishing by authentic deed the inheritance certificate which allows heirs to make their claims on third parties (banks, insurance companies, land register, etc.);
• preparing the division of assets according to the succession;
• finally, executing the division, in particular by closing and distributing bank accounts, modifying the registration on the land register, in short, transferring everything that belonged to the deceased to his/her heirs or legatees.
5. Execution of wills
The notary is the ideal person, through the trusting relationship that ties you to him/her and by his/her professional skills, to execute your succession. His or her intervention will prevent any problems for your heirs and any disputes.