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Old 28.05.2015, 02:35
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If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

Gosh not sure how to start this... not even sure if I am posting in the right place.

Please bear with me while I try to put this in a way that is easily understood.

1): My mother was Swiss, she also had US citizenship. Hadn't lived in CH since the 1960's.
2): Mum died 8 months ago in the US, where she'd lived.
3): She was a widow, and left behind 2 children, myself and my brother, both of us live in the US.
4): Prior to her going into hospice we got notification that she was one of many inheriting money from a relative who had died in Switzerland.
5): My family in CH is representing us.
6): A few weeks ago I sent my authorization for a certificate of inheritance to be applied for.
7): Was contacted yesterday by family in CH stating the registry office in CH couldn't generate the certificate of inheritance due to: a) Mum's death hasn't been recorded in Glarus. and b): they need an official confirmation about the existence/non existence of a legacy left by mum... I assume this means other claims. They have asked that I provide MY inheritance claim be certified here in the US.

The 1st part I can handle by notifying and providing a death certificate to the Swiss Consulate here in San Fran. I will also send the registry office in Glarus the same, but I am confused on the 2nd part, and exactly what they need. Mum had an informal will, which she signed and was witnessed by 2 people, she did this only because she didn't want any fights over the little she had. But is this what they need? Is it enough? Or is this what they need to be notarized? Not sure thats even an option seeing as mum is dead...

Oh boy I so confused... any ideas?
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Old 28.05.2015, 02:45
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

i don't know. maybe you can get those docs you already have apostilled then send them and see if it is enough?
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Old 28.05.2015, 03:13
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

Yes, that is a good idea... One thing I forgot to mention .... wouldn't I need to provide documents such as birth certificate/s which show/prove we are my mothers next of kin/heirs?
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Old 28.05.2015, 08:22
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

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Yes, that is a good idea... One thing I forgot to mention .... wouldn't I need to provide documents such as birth certificate/s which show/prove we are my mothers next of kin/heirs?
This Swiss love paperwork (and Swiss paperwork much more than foreign).

You will be dealing with small local office in Glarus who do not want to be accused of making a wrong decision, so send them every bit of paperwork you have - not originals but notarised copies. This may take some time and involve cost on your part, but is likely to produce results...
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Old 29.05.2015, 00:18
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

Thank you and yep how right you are....

Talked to the consulate in San Fran and was told that the US does not have an inheritance court/claim procedure other than providing proof in the form of original birth certificates. I have asked my family in CH to contact the office in Glarus, per suggestion of SF Consulate... who will hopefully accept birth certs.

I do have a question for you, when you suggest not using originals, but having them copied and notarized, why? Aren't originals better? I have a feeling I will probably end up getting originals notarized...
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Old 29.05.2015, 08:07
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

Because you might not get the originals back. Always better to send copies if you can, unless you have multiple originals
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Old 29.05.2015, 09:02
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

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You will be dealing with small local large cantonal office in Glarus
FTFY.

Inheritance certificate stuff does not go through the local (communal) offices.

And yes, notarized and apostillaed copies of the birth, marriage and death certificates.

Tom
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Old 30.05.2015, 19:49
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

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Gosh not sure how to start this... not even sure if I am posting in the right place.

Please bear with me while I try to put this in a way that is easily understood.

1): My mother was Swiss, she also had US citizenship. Hadn't lived in CH since the 1960's.
2): Mum died 8 months ago in the US, where she'd lived.
3): She was a widow, and left behind 2 children, myself and my brother, both of us live in the US.
4): Prior to her going into hospice we got notification that she was one of many inheriting money from a relative who had died in Switzerland.
5): My family in CH is representing us.
6): A few weeks ago I sent my authorization for a certificate of inheritance to be applied for.
7): Was contacted yesterday by family in CH stating the registry office in CH couldn't generate the certificate of inheritance due to: a) Mum's death hasn't been recorded in Glarus. and b): they need an official confirmation about the existence/non existence of a legacy left by mum... I assume this means other claims. They have asked that I provide MY inheritance claim be certified here in the US.

The 1st part I can handle by notifying and providing a death certificate to the Swiss Consulate here in San Fran. I will also send the registry office in Glarus the same, but I am confused on the 2nd part, and exactly what they need. Mum had an informal will, which she signed and was witnessed by 2 people, she did this only because she didn't want any fights over the little she had. But is this what they need? Is it enough? Or is this what they need to be notarized? Not sure thats even an option seeing as mum is dead...

Oh boy I so confused... any ideas?
OK. Start by reading this, an advice sheet formerly distributed by the Swiss Embassy in Washington but no longer because it is a bit obsolete:
http://www.uniset.ca/misc/swissestates.pdf

I have been through this, a bit over a decade ago.

The first thing (as you know and others have confirmed) is to deliver the US death certificate to the Swiss consular officer in San Francisco. That office will send it to Bern, and they will send it on to your Mom's commune of origin. You can send copies direct to the commune's Office de l'Etat Civil but it isn't worth the $10 (?) cost of notarization in California and will have no legal effect in any case -- just be a "head's up" to expect the official transmittal. It's the Consulate General that does the translation (they have a matrix to do that, it's their job; also to know the forms from all the counties and states they are responsible for so as to catch forgeries, etc.)

The next thing to do is to get letters testamentary or of administration as executor or administrator (executor if there was a Will, administrator if not). The Consul will tell you what you need to do to make that valid for Switzerland.

Under Swiss law, and the laws of all civil-code jurisdictions (except I guess Louisiana and Puerto Rico in the USA) there is no such thing as probate. There is "succession". You, as heir, have the option to refuse the inheritance or to accept the inheritance either unconditionally or subject to inventory. If the succession/estate may be insolvent, get advice. I think that is unlikely since your Mom had no apparent connection with Switzerland, but (see below) she could be inheriting debts. (Unlike other countries US bankruptcy law does not deal with decedents' estates, that is a matter of state law.) An heir to a Swiss insolvent succession inherits (and is responsible for) unpaid debts unless s/he has renounced (disclaimed) it.

In principle (under US state law) it is your Mom's estate that is now the legatee or heir. But Swiss law may not understand that principle: it may well deem your Mom's heirs to receive in their stead. (In my Mom's case the Swiss assets were essentially zero and the US assets were substantial.)

Your wording is confusing. I assume that when the Swiss authorities said "They have asked that I provide MY inheritance claim be certified here in the US" what they want is a certified (apostilled?) copy of the letters testamentary (or of administration).

I am not licensed in California. But I know that probate is expensive there and so most persons of means avoid probate (or avoid passing substantial assets through probate) and do so via a living trust (inter vivos trust). While Switzerland has now ratified The Hague Convention on trusts (at the behest of its banks who earlier opposed it), that may not help you.

This is the everyday work of a consul. (I was a US consular officer once but that was long ago and in another country.) Just ask. The SFO consular officers are, I am told by relatives who were just granted facilitated naturalization through their good offices, "kind and helpful".

If you need more information on how US probate works, come back on this thread. I don't check the forum very often but will look in over the next day or two.

(Despite what the just prior comment by st2lemans says (and it isn't my aim to be critical in any way): it is likely that your Mom was registered with the consul, unless she lost her Swiss citizenship prior to the 1960s or 70s due to US naturalization and never got her Swiss citizenship back. If she was Swiss at the time of her death then the Consulate General and her commune of origin will have a record of her status including birth and marriage (which would be on her civil-status record and her family register) and the only thing to add is her death certificate. If she isn't Swiss anymore then the Consul will have to guide you through what else needs to be done. The link above might help; I haven't read it in some years. Swiss consular officers have access to a quite remarkable database that includes everything they need to know about everybody relevant to their consular work.)

Last edited by Caryl; 30.05.2015 at 20:04.
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Old 02.06.2015, 01:18
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

Carly, you have been a wealth of information, I can not thank you enough!!!
I talked with the consulate in SF they did confirm that mum is registered in Glarus, however because she died in Missouri I have to send her death certificate to the consulate in Washington DC...Which may explain why her death hasn't been registered, as I sent the death cert to SF! They also suggested I have family in Switzerland contact the Glarus office to see if birth certificates would be accepted as we do not have *inheritance court/claim/s* here in the US.
Of course you are correct with regard to a will etc.... unfortunately, mum only had a very small life insurance, which paid for the her last wishes. Her will if you could call it that, was done as any other will would be, but it was witnessed by 2 people and not notarized. We only did that to avoid any potential family issues... (that is another story entirely)...

Carly, you have been so helpful and opened my eyes to the complexity of all this....
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Old 02.06.2015, 21:01
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

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Of course you are correct with regard to a will etc.... unfortunately, mum only had a very small life insurance, which paid for the her last wishes. Her will if you could call it that, was done as any other will would be, but it was witnessed by 2 people and not notarized. We only did that to avoid any potential family issues... (that is another story entirely)...

Carly, you have been so helpful and opened my eyes to the complexity of all this....
@chessasfo: A will is not notarized (except sometimes in Louisiana and Puerto Rico, civil-law countries, as it would be in Switzerland).

What one can do (and what my Mom did, but then I drafted her will and was there for its execution) is to have notarized the witnesses' statements. That makes the will self-executing so you don't have to track down the witnesses (or, if they've died, prove their signatures). That's true in NY (where I haven't lived in many years) but not in all US states.

Life insurance almost always passes outside the estate.

You could take out letters testamentary if there is in fact a will. The trouble is that (as I wrote the other day) in Calif. it's not cheap. It quotes $450 on the court Web site: http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/sites...20012814_0.pdf

If you go that route the consulate will know how to deal with the document.

When my father-in-law died (resident in Germany as a civilian with US Forces) before traveling to Frankfurt I took out "letters of voluntary administration" for a small estate in New York County (that's Manhattan). That gave my mother in law a document she could use to collect his assets, although in fact her SOFA status meant nobody asked.

The place where your mom died is relevant only to the certification of death and (as I think I wrote) it is up to the Swiss consul with jurisdiction over that state to certify it -- only that consul knows what it is supposed to look like. The Consular Section of the Swiss Embassy in Washington has jurisdiction for Missouri, as you were told.

The place where she was "domiciled" is the place with jurisdiction for probate or administration. I think that's SF, but I might have mis-read or forgotten something. If she was domiciled in Missouri the probate fee is a minimum of $250, or 5% of the value of the estate (a lesser percentage for larger estates): http://www.kctrustlaw.com/files/Down...robatefees.pdf

In the end it's up to the Swiss notary and the magistrate dealing with the assets there to say whether they will distribute assets outside of a US probate or not.

Good luck.

Last edited by Caryl; 02.06.2015 at 21:34.
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Old 02.06.2015, 21:19
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Re: If you're up for a challenge/RE:Inheritance in CH but...

@Caryl
it's not my story at all, but thank you. It warms my heart when someone takes as much trouble as you have, here, to set out the steps for a stranger asking for help. With these detailed - and kind - posts to chessasfo, you put some real goodness into my evening.
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