Inheritance law

How to draft a will ?

Writing a will is essential because it allows individuals to clearly outline their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after they pass away. It provides a sense of control over one’s estate and ensures that their belongings, properties, and finances are divided according to their desires.

A will can help prevent disputes among family members, streamline the probate process, and ultimately provide peace of mind for both the individual and their loved ones. 


Mastering the art of will Drafting: Key considerations and practical advice

Except under exceptional circumstances, there are two ways to write a will. The first one is to do it personally, in written form, which offers the advantage of being flexible, as you may revoke it easily. The second one takes the form of a public deed. It is much more formal and consists of appearing before a public notary, accompanied by two witnesses.

In a will, you can change the legal order of inheritance and determine what each heir will inherit. However, the law does not give you complete freedom. As previously mentioned, the spouse and descendants are entitled to their statutory entitlement at least. Should this not be respected, they can claim their entitlement in front of a Court.

When drafting a handwritten will, you should consider the following points:

    • Your will must be drafted entirely by your hand, dated and signed. It is therefore is not possible to type your will.
    • In order to avoid misunderstandings, your will should clearly indicates that all previous documents are revoked.
    • We advise appointing an executor. The executor’s mission consists of managing the estate, preparing the distribution of the inheritance according to the will and respecting and enforcing any instructions from the testator related to his death.
    • Instead of appointing a person as an heir, you can also bequeath them a sum of money or a specific object. The person who receives a bequest (or legacy) has fewer rights and obligations than an heir. In a will, a clear distinction must therefore always be made between inheritance and bequest.
    • In your will, you may determine initial and substitute heirs. This allows you to control not only who receives a share of your inheritance, but also what should happen to that share after that heir’s death.
    • If you are married, you may grant the usufruct of part of the estate, which would otherwise be left to the common descendants, to your surviving spouse. This grants the surviving spouse the use and administration of said property for life (or until a certain point in time).

As a general rule, it is important to make sure that your will is formulated as clearly and simply as possible, to avoid any form of misinterpretation. We also advise you to register your will directly with the competent cantonal authorities.

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