If you buy a Swiss property, estate tax and inheritance tax rules can apply to you. These can vary depending on which Swiss canton you live in. The inheritance rules in Swiss vary, so it may be beneficial to contract an expert to ensure you’re getting the best treatment possible.
Switzerland Inheritance Law and Succession Rules
As an expat living in Switzerland, you can choose whether to have Swiss inheritance tax law, or the laws of your home country applied to your estate. This is specified in your will. Swiss inheritance law applies by default without a will or the expression of their preference.
It’s important to note that Swiss inheritance law included forced heirship rules. This means certain relatives cannot be disinherited, even through a last will and testament. This leaves 50% of the estate to the spouse or registered partner. Of the remaining half, at least 75% goes to the children and grandchildren.
Inheritance Law on Pensions in Switzerland
Spouses and children may be entitled to inherit some of their relative’s pensions. If the deceased paid AHV contributions for at least one year, a survivor’s or orphan’s pension might be available for a spouse, same-sex registered partner, or child of the deceased. If the benefits are already in place, then the survivor’s pension will increase by 20%
Switzerland Inheritance Tax
Heirs under Swiss tax law have some flexibility. They can accept the inheritance, reject it, or accept it subject to public inventory.
Accepting an inheritance subject to public inventory is an excellent option for an heir who is unsure of the deceased’s financial situation and is concerned debts will outweigh the assets inherited.
The heir has three months from the date of death to decide on a course of action before it’s assumed the inheritance will be accepted.
For those choosing to accept an inheritance, a certificate of inheritance can be obtained from the Swiss authorities. This proves the right to inherit and is needed by financial institutions before money can be withdrawn from the deceased’s accounts. The cost of this certificate varies between cantons but can range up to a few thousand Swiss francs.
For an heir who chooses to reject their inheritance, the Swiss government website will provide more guidance on disclaiming an inheritance.
Estate Tax in Switzerland
The amount of tax due when inheriting a property can be affected by several factors:
● The property’s market value
● The degree of relationship to the deceased (ranging from 0-40%)
● The canton’s surcharge (100-300% applied to the basic rate)
Paying Inheritance Tax in Switzerland
Once the tax assessment is received, you generally have 20 days to pay Swiss inheritance taxes. Switzerland has double tax treaties that can benefit expats in Switzerland as well as Swiss residents abroad. Set up between more than 50 countries, these ensure you won’t get taxed by both countries. However, if your country isn’t one of these, you could be subject to paying Swiss inheritance tax and your home country’s tax.
Inheritance Tax Rates
Each canton has a different rate of inheritance tax. Some share with municipalities while others levy on their own. The canton Schwyz has no inheritance tax. The taxable rate also depends on the overall value of the assets and your relationship to the deceased. The person who inherits the estate will also pay the charges. Tax doesn’t apply to personal and household goods.
Switzerland Tax and Inheritance Rules
Switzerland is known for progressive taxation, allowing its residents to benefit at home and abroad. Inheriting in Switzerland changes depending on the canton you’re in, so be sure to understand the rules for the specific place you find yourself in.