Inheritance law

Legal heirs?

In Switzerland, inheritance law establish a hierarchical structure known as the statutory order of inheritance, unless the deceased has made specific testamentary provisions. This system comprises three distinct lines of statutory heirs: descendants, parents and their descendants, and grandparents and their descendants. Each line holds priority over the subsequent one, ensuring that inheritance follows a predetermined hierarchy. Understanding this framework is essential for navigating inheritance matters effectively.

Who are the legal heirs?

Swiss inheritance law imposes a statutory order of inheritance, which is valid as long as the deceased did not make any testamentary provisions.

According to the Swiss Civil Code, the order of inheritance is determined by a system of lines. There are three different lines of statutory heirs :

  • The first one comprises of the deceased’s descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.).
  • The parents of the deceased and their descendants (i.e. the deceased’s siblings) compose the second line.
  • The grandparents and their descendants  form the third line.

There is a hierarchy among the three lines: as long as at least one member of a line can inherit from the deceased, all members of the following lines are excluded from the inheritance.


Surviving spouse

The surviving spouse or registered partner of the deceased inherits outside the system of lines, despite being considered a statutory beneficiary. 

The surviving spouse or registered partner is entitled to:

Four general principles apply to lines of statutory heirs :

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