FAQ - Frequently asked questions about inheritance

FAQ - Frequently asked questions about inheritance

Possibilities of inheritance

How to give the gift of the future

If you would like to include the Menschen für Menschen Foundation in your will, the following options are available to you.

Bequest or legacy

This is the clearest and simplest way you can support the charity: you specify a specific amount, a material asset, an object, a property or a percentage of your assets.


You bequeath a certain share of your assets to the foundation and make the organization your co-heir. Suggested text for your will: "I appoint the Menschen für Menschen Switzerland Foundation as my co-heir."

Sole heir

If you have no relatives who are entitled to inherit, you are free to appoint the foundation as the sole heir to your estate. Suggested text for your will: "I appoint the Menschen für Menschen Switzerland Foundation as the 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 legal right to a statutory share. This is the share of the assets that cannot be taken away from them. The testator can appoint heirs for the rest of the assets by will or inheritance contract - for example, individuals or non-profit organizations.

Compulsory shares and “free quota”

Inheritance law regulates so-called compulsory shares for your relatives. They apply to your spouse, registered partner and children. The compulsory shares are expressed as fractions of the total assets.

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

The amount of the compulsory shares depends on the specific case. If you are unsure, we recommend consulting 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 of the other half as you wish.

Estate CHF 200,000.–
Compulsory portion of spouse 1/2 CHF 100,000.–
Non-disposable quota 1/2 CHF 100,000.–

Unmarried or widowed with children

The children receive half of the legal inheritance as a compulsory share. They can dispose of the rest as they wish.

Estate 1/1 CHF 400,000.–
Compulsory portion of children 1/2 CHF 200,000.–
Free quota 1/2 CHF 200,000.–

Single people without children

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

Estate 1/1 CHF 100,000.–
Non-disposable quota 1/1 CHF 100,000.–

Perhaps your own circumstances are different from the simple examples described here? We would be happy to advise you personally.

What is legal succession?

If there is no will, the law regulates which people benefit from an inheritance. These are the spouse or blood relatives such as descendants, parents and siblings. The law regulates the order of inheritance and the share of the inheritance. If there are no legal heirs and no last will and testament, the assets go to the state.

What types of wills are there?

Basically, a distinction is made between a handwritten will and a publicly certified will. The latter is often chosen when the testator cannot or does not want to write his or her last will and testament himself or herself, for example in complicated cases or if he or she is visually impaired. The will is then drawn up by a notary and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses.

What is an inheritance contract?

This is a contractual commitment between the testator and one or more heirs. The inheritance contract is often used to protect spouses. It must be notarized.

What is a legacy?

A legacy is synonymous with a bequest. It is a portion of assets that the testator wishes to leave to a person or a charitable organization. A legacy can consist of a specific amount of money, valuables or real estate.

How high is the inheritance tax?

The tax rates vary greatly depending on the degree of relationship between the beneficiaries and the canton. Inheritances and bequests to spouses and their descendants are generally tax-free. For other types of relationship, the tax rate can be up to 40 percent, depending on the canton. Menschen für Menschen, as a non-profit organization, is exempt from inheritance tax in most cantons.

Can I change my will?

A will can be supplemented, changed or revoked at any time by hand or by a notary.

Where is the best place to deposit the will?

Only the original is your valid will. A copy is worthless. The Swiss Notaries Association advises against keeping your will at home. It is best to keep it in a safe place where it can be found quickly: with the executor, a trusted person or the relevant office. In every canton there is an authority that is obliged to keep handwritten wills.

What is an executor?

An executor is usually named in the will. This person ensures that the testator's final wishes are fulfilled. This person can be a natural person (often a notary or a lawyer) or a legal person (for example, banks or trust companies).


If we could not answer your question, please contact us: