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Old 31.07.2022, 02:56
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Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

Having seen the utter horror show of what can happen here when advance directive documents are challenged, I'm trying to make sure that ours are water tight.

My husband and I have written Vorsorgeauftrag documents in German, following the format suggested by our bank and by the Red Cross.

However, although our German is certainly sufficient to understand these documents, it is nonetheless imperfect.

My concern is that I can see a scenario where someone might challenge the validity of a German language document we have written. I want to make sure that cannot happen.

If the documents were written in English no one could challenge our competency, ability, or intentions.

But would an English Vorsorgeauftrag be considered legal?

If not, what steps could we take with our German language documents to make them absolutely 'challenge proof'?

Many thanks.


ETA:

Example of my imperfect German: I spelled Vorsorgeauftrag wrong in the title. Or maybe I just need new glasses.

Last edited by meloncollie; 31.07.2022 at 03:28.
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Old 31.07.2022, 07:23
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

Write it by hand, sign it and get your signatures witnessed or even better notarised.
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Old 31.07.2022, 09:39
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

There is no such thing as a document that cannot be challenged and if someone in your circle is likely to challenge it they probably will and there is not much you can do about it. The important thing is that they don’t succeed.

As an accountant I once had a client whose brother had challenged two wills in the past and on legal advice she asked me to be involved in the drafting of her will. The steps she took were:
- I had to make an affidavit as to her competency in understanding her financial affairs
- A doctor made an affidavit as to her mental capacity
- There were five witnesses, the doctor and I knew the contents, so if necessary we could testify as to her competence to make that specific will.
- All of the witnesses were advised to have a conversation with her before hand above current affairs, family, her feelings etc..

If you think there is a chance that someone will make a challenge, get proper legal advice.
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Old 31.07.2022, 09:46
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

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Write it by hand, sign it and get your signatures witnessed or even better notarised.
We've done the handwritten document, in German, albeit it is not notarized.

But I've seen that lack of perfect fluency can be use to challenge overall competency.

My worry is that someone with... let's just say not neutral intentions... could come along and claim that our B2 (me), A2/B1 (OH, best guesstimate) German wasn't sufficient and the document is thus invalid and then... Bad Things Could Happen.

Bearing in mind that at the point these documents need to be put into use one of us will be vulnerable and the other might find it difficult to fight off third parties who try to stick an oar in. I need to make sure everything we do in advance is iron-clad, in order to protect the spouse who is protecting the vulnerable person.

So - do you think the English version, which would be an uphill battle to challenge as it is our mother tongue, is acceptable in Switzerland, as long as I get it notarized? (I assume I'd need the US consulate to notarize an English language document...)

Or should I go with a new German version and get it notarized by a Swiss notary? Would I need an official statement of some kind attesting to our having sufficient German proficiency to be competent to sign the document?

For example: When we bought the house years ago the notary first has a 30 second chat with us, and based on that said our German was sufficient to sign the contract. I would assume a notary could do the same with any other German document. With end-of-life planning, as long as a notary accepted the document, other officials would have to do so as well.

Oder?

ETA:

Cross posted with you, Jim. Sounds like the next stop should be an attorney.
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Old 31.07.2022, 10:17
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

As it is a private document between husband and wife, it can be written in any language you like, it is not an official document as such.


How many commercial contracts are written in English ?
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Old 31.07.2022, 11:13
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

The other option might be to draft it in English then have it translated professionally. The translator can then notarise the translation.
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Old 31.07.2022, 11:32
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

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Write it by hand, sign it and get your signatures witnessed or even better notarised.
My MIL did that, and we successfully challenged it.

Tom
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Old 31.07.2022, 11:57
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

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My MIL did that, and we successfully challenged it.

Tom
What is that saying? Where there is a will there is a way.

I don't know much about this organization but perhaps you could contact them.
https://www.prosenectute.ch/de/ueber...t4/schwyz.html
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Old 31.07.2022, 12:17
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

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As it is a private document between husband and wife, it can be written in any language you like, it is not an official document as such.
But isn't it an official document?

Without a Vorsorgeauftrag (or with one that has been challenged) the spouse's ability to act for the vulnerable partner can be severely curtailed or even taken away altogether.

I don't want that to happen to either of us.


Granted all this is hopefully just belts and braces, as we do not intend to start our shuffle off this mortal coil from Switzerland.

However anything could happen at anytime, and so must be planned for. As I've heard over and over in my decades here, if one doesn't anticipate the unexpected: "Selber schuld!"
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Old 31.07.2022, 12:30
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

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Without a Vorsorgeauftrag (or with one that has been challenged) the spouse's ability to act for the vulnerable partner can be severely curtailed or even taken away altogether.
Howso?

Without one, the spouse decides, only with one can someone else decide.

Tom
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Old 31.07.2022, 13:17
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

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Howso?

Without one, the spouse decides, only with one can someone else decide.

Tom
Not always. Some spouses like to specify that their own spouse may decide on their behalf. But not all, especially if the spouses do not share the same opinion about something such as Exit or what to do in the case of Alzheimer's.

And even if they do agree, some people want to try to plan to un-burden their spouse during what could be a difficult situation, and may therefore prefer to name a sibling or an adult child, or a lawyer, for all or part of the decisions. This may be a practical idea, too, if one is an expert in something (such as the care of animals or the collection and sale of art or specialised equipment) and the other is not.
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Old 31.07.2022, 13:25
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Re: Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

Can somebody please translate Vorsorgeauftrag into English and possibly the other official Swiss languages too please?

Not everyone here is in the German speaking part nor speaks German but the info may still be relevant to them.

Last edited by Belgianmum; 31.07.2022 at 14:37.
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Old 31.07.2022, 13:47
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Re: Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

I’m pretty sure someone at HSLU is willing to answer a few questions regarding language/legal implications in English – at worst you spend CHF 400.00 is you attend the course…
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Old 31.07.2022, 13:47
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Re: Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

I'd translate Vorsorgeauftrag as advance directive - but that's also thinking through a US-centric legal understanding.

Bearing in mind that my French is terrible and I have no Italian... If I switch the Red Cross page to FR, they say mandat pour cause d’inaptitude, and in IT mandato precauzionale


I'll leave it to the FR and IT speakers to weigh in.
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Old 31.07.2022, 13:52
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Re: Vorsorgsauftrag written in English - legal?

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But isn't it an official document?
Our/my local notary can be used as a deposit nowadays. Any documents that must not be lost under any circumstances and need to be available at short notice can be deposited, probably for a small fee.

Perhaps enquire if a similar service is available at your place.

As for the language issue, perhaps it would help if you had a German document saying that the one in English (deposited alongside at the notar's) is the only relevent one? just an idea.

WRT Vorsorgeauftrag, from what I've read, it having a long history may be taken into account, the longer the stronger(especially relevant if the written order contradicts the person/s given the authority to decide), so it's recommended to add a new signature every year or two, and maybe keep old/outdated versions.
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Old 31.07.2022, 13:56
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Re: Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

Not to be depressing but my MIL completed all the forms.
Later on, she was admitted to an old people's home, then the government department Kindes- und Erwachsenenschutzbehörden (KESB) came along decided with medical evidence she was no longer competent, and threw away all those forms.

We got the forms from the link below, cost around CHF 20 if I remember correctly.
https://www.prosenectute.ch/de.html
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Old 31.07.2022, 13:57
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Re: Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

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Can somebody please translate Vorsorgeauftrag into English and possibly the other official Swiss languages too please?

It everyone here is in the German speaking part nor speaks German but the info may still be relevant to them.
Here's what Credit Suisse have to say about it in English:

https://www.credit-suisse.com/ch/en/...ng-201610.html
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Old 31.07.2022, 14:41
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Re: Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

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I'd translate Vorsorgeauftrag as advance directive - but that's also thinking through a US-centric legal understanding.

Bearing in mind that my French is terrible and I have no Italian... If I switch the Red Cross page to FR, they say mandat pour cause d’inaptitude, and in IT mandato precauzionale


I'll leave it to the FR and IT speakers to weigh in.
Aha, that’s probably what we would refer to as a Living Will in the UK.
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Old 31.07.2022, 15:57
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Re: Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

As far as I know, versions of draft Living Wills (also known as Patientenverfügung, in German) with regard to matters of health, including the circumstances under which to continue or stop medical treatment and feeding, can be downloaded from the Red Cross (as OP did), and also from the FMH (that's the Swiss medical board) and, of course from Exit.
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Old 31.07.2022, 16:45
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Re: Vorsorgeauftrag written in English - legal?

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As far as I know, versions of draft Living Wills (also known as Patientenverfügung, in German) with regard to matters of health, including the circumstances under which to continue or stop medical treatment and feeding, can be downloaded from the Red Cross (as OP did), and also from the FMH (that's the Swiss medical board) and, of course from Exit.
We have all that, and signed the German forms ages ago. We thought that was all that we needed to protect each other. But as you can see from Marton's post, those forms might not be enough.

Because I have seen imperfect fluency in German used as an argument against competency, the question I have is how to protect a non-native speaker, either the vulnerable person or spouse caring for them, from a third party challenging a Vorsorgeauftrag on those grounds. Or, for that matter, from any challenge.

What are the chances that our wishes would be challenged? Small - but not non-zero. Non-zero is too risky for my peace of mind.

I think I'll go with Jim's solution: Lawyer up.
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