Inheritance law

What is the compulsery share ?


The compulsory share in Swiss inheritance law guarantees certain family members, such as children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and spouses or registered partners, receive a minimum share of the estate. This protection ensures that these heirs cannot be completely excluded from their rightful inheritance.

If a person wishes to distribute their estate in a way that differs from the legal requirements, they can create a last will to appoint additional heirs and specify different shares of inheritance. However, the compulsory portion still sets a minimum that must be given to eligible heirs. This minimum share cannot be reduced, even if the testator wants to allocate more to other heirs.

The compulsory portion represents the minimum that must be allocated to certain legal heirs. In cases where compulsory portion applies, half of the estate is considered divisible. Individuals without eligible heirs can freely distribute their entire estate as they see fit.

Navigating conditions and statutory share in Switzerland

What is the statutory entitlement ?

Among the legal heirs, some have a statutory entitlement, which means that these heirs must necessarily receive a share of the inheritance (their statutory entitlement ). 

The statutory entitlement, namely the minimum share of the inheritance that a legal heir must receive, is as follows:

    • for the surviving spouse or registered partner: their statutory entitlement is of half their legal share, resulting in 25% of the inheritance if there are heirs within the first line.
    • for the descendants (grandchildren or great-grandchildren if the children are predeceased): their statutory entitlement is of half their legal share in the absence of any other legal heir.

The surviving spouse loses the statutory entitlement as soon as divorce proceedings are pending if (a) the procedure was introduced by joint request or (b) the spouses have lived apart for at least 2 years.

Keep in mind that divorce proceedings result in the loss of the statutory entitlement only, meaning that the surviving spouse maintains their right to their legal share of the inheritance. It is mandatory to draw up a testamentary provision during divorce proceedings if the surviving spouse is to be deprived of their legal share of the inheritance. This means that a simple will is now all that is needed to fully disinherit a spouse during divorce proceedings.

The parents’ statutory entitlement was removed in the revision of inheritance law. Until the end of 2022, the parents’ statutory entitlement amounted to half of their legal inheritance share. Under the revised inheritance law, parents only inherit according to the legal order of succession, i.e. when the testator has no descendants and the available portion has not been settled otherwise by a will or an inheritance agreement.

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