System change in inheritance law: what will change from January 1, 2023
On January 1, 2023, new provisions will come into force in Swiss inheritance law. They give more design options and greater flexibility for estate planning. For patchwork? families and cohabiting couples in particular, but also for testators without descendants, the right of self-determination will be extended.
1. More leeway for the testator
The testator can now bequeath a larger part of his or her assets to "anyone". The surviving spouse or cohabiting partner can thus be left more than before by means of a will, while the obligatory share of the inheritance (compulsory share) is reduced. In certain cases, the new law even allows the testator, if he or she is not married and has no children, to bequeath everything to the cohabiting partner, a special neighbor, or the beloved pet.
However, when making a will, possible tax consequences must be taken into account. In most cantons, high inheritance or gift taxes are levied on bequests to distant relatives and especially to non-relatives, such as cohabiting partners, while bequests to spouses and descendants may be tax-free.
The higher flexibility in the rules of disposition and allocation also facilitates the transfer of family businesses. Entrepreneurs are therefore advised to take this greater flexibility and the new scope for structuring into account in their estate planning and to capture it in a will or inheritance contract.
2. Overcoming stumbling blocks
The statutory formal requirements must also be complied with under the new law: a will issued without a notary must be handwritten, dated and signed. However, if it was written before January 1, 2023, it is essential to state whether it is to be interpreted in accordance with the new provisions after the new law comes into force.
Attention must also be paid to the legal inheritance rights of the parental family tree: This is because if a testator without descendants has not provided for anything in the will, the members of the parental branch are entitled to a statutory share of the inheritance. If married couples or couples in a registered partnership and cohabiting couples without descendants want to prevent this, this must be stipulated in the will, as the compulsory share of the parental branch is abolished in the new law.
Finally, inheritance contracts that were drawn up before January 1, 2023, should be reviewed as of 2023 and amended if necessary: the testator must stipulate which lifetime bequests are to be permitted despite the inheritance contract. Otherwise, heirs may be able to contest the inheritance contract, depending on the circumstances.
3. Recommendation for action: redraft the will, review the contract of inheritance
In order to take advantage of the room for manoeuver created by the new inheritance law provisions, you must take action: we recommend that you review existing wills and, if necessary, redraft or supplement them so that the succession under the new law also corresponds to the will of the testator.
Your divorce is your decision
Do you agree with your partner that your marriage has no future and that you want to divorce? Do you both want the court proceedings to be simple and the arrangement to be low-conflict and amicable?
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Thick mail from the collection agency
Have you received an impudent collection bill? Or a bill for an amount you don't even owe? Keep calm, but act quickly and seek advice. That way, you have the best chance of successfully fending off the attack.
Debt collection offices are overburdened and more and more collection agencies are specializing in the collection of money in order to collect actual or alleged debts. Can debtors who are being harassed only save themselves by paying? No, because an invoice does not constitute a claim. Only legally owed amounts are to be paid, so it pays to look and be persistent. If you pay a debt that is not owed, it will be difficult to recover the amount.
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PRECEDENT: THE FEDERAL COURT CLARIFIES: NATURALIZED MEN WHO DID NOT PERFORM MILITARY SERVICE DO NOT HAVE TO PAY A RETROACTIVE SUBSTITUTE LEVY
Since the beginning of 2019, it has been the case that the Swiss military tax must be paid not only until the age of 30, but until the age of 37. Thousands of Swiss nationals naturalized before 2019 have since received retroactive bills for the military service tax because they had not served in previous years.
Those who refused to pay the bill because military service was not actually obligatory under the previous law for the period in which the bill was issued either went unheard or were dismissed with the argument that military service was a "permanent matter". The Federal Supreme Court now decided otherwise: "The legislator refrained from extending the temporal scope of the new regulation to the period before its entry into force" (Federal Supreme Court decision: 2C_1005/2021). It follows that naturalized men who did not have to perform military service do not in fact have to pay a substitute levy retroactively. The offices for military service substitution are required to implement this case law.
Were you (wrongly) requested to pay the substitute tax retroactively? We will be happy to check whether you are obliged to do so under new federal court rulings.
Judgment of the Federal Court: 2C_1005/2021 (https://entscheidsuche.ch/view/CH_BGer_002_2C-1005-2021_2022-04-26)
INTEREST-BEARING PERSONAL LOANS AS INVESTMENT ALTERNATIVES – LEGAL ADVICE ON THE LOAN AGREEMENT
«… « It makes sense to seek legal advice first if there are questions about or disputes on the terms of a personal loan,” says Jean-Luc Delli, head of the Rechtsatelier. Parties can, for example, change the loan contract and agree that the debtor will only (but still) repay part of the loan or repay it in instalments; that the lender will extend his payment period or that the interest rate will be reduced. This can be the case, for example, if the lender wants his money back within a few weeks in the case of an open-ended loan, but the debtor has invested the funds in a property or an equity fund. Such win-win solutions can hardly be achieved in court proceedings…»
Published in the print NZZ of 4 February 2022 (available online at: https://www.nzz.ch/finanzen/private-finanzen/privatdarlehen-anlagealternative-mit-fallstricken-ld.1668025)
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