FAQ - Frequently asked questions on the subject of inheritance

Possibilities for legacies
How to give a gift for the future

If you want to include the foundation Menschen für Menschen in your will, the following options are open to you.

Legacy or bequest
This is the clearest and simplest way in which you can benefit the relief organisation: You determine a certain amount, a tangible asset, a property, real estate or a percentage of your assets.

Joint heir
You bequeath a certain quota of your assets to the foundation and make the organisation a co-heir. A suggested text for your will: «I appoint the foundation Menschen für Menschen Switzerland as my joint heir.»

Sole heir
If you have no relatives entitled to your inheritance, you are free to appoint the foundation as the sole heir to your estate. A suggested text for your will: “I appoint the foundation Menschen für Menschen Switzerland as sole heir.

Who can inherit my assets?
Legal heirs are blood relatives (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren), the spouse, the registered partner (in the case of same-sex couples) and adopted children. They have a right to a compulsory portion. This is the portion of the assets that may not be withdrawn from them. For the rest of the assets, the testator can appoint appointed heirs by will or inheritance contract – for example, persons or non-profit organisations.
Compulsory portions and free quota
The law of succession regulates so-called compulsory portions for your relatives. They exist for the spouse, the registered partner, the children and the parents.  The compulsory portions are expressed in fractions of the total assets.

You dispose of the rest of your estate yourself by will:  With the so-called “free quota”, which was increased by the inheritance law revision on January 1st 2023, you make use of your freedom to shape your life beyond your will.

How high the compulsory portions are depends on the specific case.  In the event of any uncertainties, it is advisable to seek advice from a specialist. The following examples provide an insight:

Married without children

If you leave behind only one spouse, the compulsory portion is half. You can dispose freely of the second half.

Estate CHF 200,000
Compulsory portion spouse 1/2 CHF 100,000
Non-compulsory quota 1/2 CHF 100’000

Unmarried or widowed persons with children

The children receive half of the legal inheritance as a compulsory portion. You are free to allocate the rest according to your wishes.

Estate 1/1 CHF 400,000
Compulsory part children 1/2 CHF 200’000
Non-compulsory quota 1/2 CHF 200,000

Single person without children

If there are no descendants and both parents have died, you can dispose of your estate without any restrictions. Without a will, distant relatives or the state may inherit your estate.

Estate 1/1 CHF 100’000
Non-compulsory quota 1/1 CHF 100,000

What is legal succession?
What kind of wills are there?
Basically, a distinction is made between a hand-written will and a publicly recorded will.  The latter is often chosen when the testator cannot or does not want to draw up his or her last will and testament himself or herself, for example in complicated cases or if there is a visual impairment.  The will is then drawn up by a civil law notary and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses.
What is an inheritance contract?
This is a contractual relationship between the testator and one or more heirs.  The contract of inheritance is often used to provide security for spouses. It must be notarised.
What is a legacy?
A legacy is equivalent to a bequest.  It is a share of assets with which the testator wishes to make a bequest to a person or a non-profit organisation.  A legacy can consist of a certain amount of money, valuables or real estate.
How much is the inheritance tax?
Tax rates vary greatly depending on the degree of kinship of the bequeathed persons and on the canton. Inheritances and bequests to spouses and their descendants are generally tax-free.  For other family relationships, the tax rate is up to 40 percent, depending on the canton.  Menschen für Menschen as a non-profit organisation is exempt from inheritance tax in most cantons.
Can I change my will?
A will can be amended, changed or revoked at any time by yourself or by a civil law notary.
Where is the best place to deposit a will?
Only the original is your valid will. A copy is worthless. The Swiss Association of Notaries advises not to keep the will at home. It is best to have a safe place where it can be found quickly: with the executor of the will, a trusted person or the relevant office. In every canton there is an authority which is obliged to keep handwritten wills.
What is an executor of wills?
As a rule, the will usually designates an executor.  This person ensures that the testator’s last will and testament is fulfilled.  The executor can be a natural person (often a notary or a lawyer) or a legal entity (for example banks or trustees).


Perhaps your own circumstances are different from the simple examples described here? We would be happy to advise you personally. If we could not answer your question, please contact us:


Contact form