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Old 19.04.2021, 15:32
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Will writing problems

We need some clarification as to exactly what we need to do to write a will that will be valid under English Law. We have just started to research the problem but various friends have given us contradictory advice.

We are British citizens, resident in Switzerland. We want to make mirror wills and leave the majority of our assets to the survivor. On the second death the remaining assets will be assigned to family and friends, all resident in England, with donations to English charities.

We have a mortgage, bank accounts and investments with UBS and this appears to be a stumbling block. We have only approached two Will Writers in the UK so far for an English Will but both said that they could not help as they were not familiar with the Swiss banking system with regard to extracting assets from the bank. UBS says we would need ‘a certificate of inheritance’ from a notary which could cost 100’s to 1,000’s of CHF! A friend whose mother died in Switzerland says this was not required.

We can easily compile a Swiss Holographic Will except for information for the English Executors so that they can access the bank funds. If we had an English Will then life would be much simpler, but we seem to be in a ‘catch-22’ situation. We are quite happy to consult a Notary but we would like to be equipped with a certain amount of knowledge first.

Lots of well-informed English Forum contributors must know the solution to this dilemma and we would be incredibly grateful for any advice you can give.
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Old 19.04.2021, 15:41
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Re: Will writing problems

"UBS says we would need ‘a certificate of inheritance’ from a notary which could cost 100’s to 1,000’s of CHF! A friend whose mother died in Switzerland says this was not required."

A "Certificate of Inheritance" is issued by the state, not a notary, and only AFTER the will is processed and agreed (after the death, of course).

It is DEFINITELY needed to access bank accounts and other property, which remain blocked until one is issued.

https://www.ch.ch/en/requesting-a-ce...of-inheritance

P.S. If you have accounts at multiple banks, you will need multiple ORIGINAL copies, not photocopies, of the Certificate of Inheritance, as well as of the Death Certificate.

Tom

Last edited by st2lemans; 19.04.2021 at 15:57. Reason: added link, P.S.
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Old 19.04.2021, 16:03
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Re: Will writing problems

We visited a Swiss notary 15 years ago concerning wills. He advised that use any will writing service in the UK, and make sure that the will is valid according to UK law, and - importantly - that the will is to be under UK law. If either spouse is Swiss, drafting under UK law is not an option.

So we just got a standard will drawn up - assets to the survivor, once both survivors are dead, assets divided among family. It covered other scenearios like the entire family being wiped out and so on. We got it witnessed by non-beneficeries, appointed an executor and have told various people where the will is. The notary advised we should also inform the local community offices.

And that's it. Swiss tax law will apply, but UK inheritance law will be applied. I'm not aware of any complexities.

Maybe I've been badly advised, maybe it's much more convoluted. Just sharing my experience and understanding. I am not an international inheritance lawyer!
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Old 19.04.2021, 16:07
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Re: Will writing problems

The "Certificate of Inheritance" has nothing to do with the will, rather the executor will need it to access the accouts.

And it can take weeks, months, or even over a year (as was the case with my MIL) for one to be produced!

Tom
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Old 20.04.2021, 15:46
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Re: Will writing problems

I haven’t made enough posts to thank St2lemans and NotAllThere in the usual manner. I am, however, extremely delighted with your speed of response and the valuable information that you have taken the time to compile.

It’s early days yet but we can now start to see the daylight at the end of the tunnel where previously it was the light of an oncoming train!

I had very recently found the ch.ch reference posted by St2Lemans:

“With a will or contract of inheritance: A certificate of inheritance cannot be requested until official confirmation has been granted by the competent authority. The official confirmation will show who is entitled to request the certificate of inheritance.” However I am still confused by “... until official confirmation has been granted by the competent authority”. Who is the competent authority?

NotAllThere’s post confirmed a lot of what I had found out but please can you tell me what you told your ‘English Will Writer’ about including your Swiss assets? Our executors will have to sell our apartment and withdraw cash and investments from the bank. Did you just say that a Swiss Certificate of Inheritance would allow them to do that?

Thank you both for your help so far and I hope you don’t mind me asking the additional questions.
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Old 20.04.2021, 15:51
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Re: Will writing problems

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However I am still confused by “... until official confirmation has been granted by the competent authority”. Who is the competent authority?
The office that deals with death and inheritance. It depends where you live. Each canton has at least one (there are 10 in Ticino, for example, Pretura di Lugano is one of them)

Tom
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Old 20.04.2021, 15:52
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Re: Will writing problems

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Our executors will have to sell our apartment and withdraw cash and investments from the bank. Did you just say that a Swiss Certificate of Inheritance would allow them to do that?
Yes, exactly.

Tom
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Old 20.04.2021, 16:04
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Re: Will writing problems

P.S. As far as I know, cash can be distributed according to your UK will, BUT property must follow Swiss inheritance law. That is certainly the case with MIL's property in Italy, i.e. that is under Italian inheritance laws, while the propery she had here and cash were under Swiss law.

Tom
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Old 20.04.2021, 17:12
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Re: Will writing problems

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P.S. As far as I know, cash can be distributed according to your UK will, BUT property must follow Swiss inheritance law. That is certainly the case with MIL's property in Italy, i.e. that is under Italian inheritance laws, while the propery she had here and cash were under Swiss law.

Tom
I think in any case that the law of the jurisdiction where the property is located will apply. This may also apply to other assets in some cases. The laws don't necessarily prevent you from distributing your assets however you like.
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Old 20.04.2021, 17:51
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Re: Will writing problems

You can write as many wills in as many jurisdictions as you wish, but when you die only one will be enforced. And by creating multiple wills your are giving a stick to anyone who is not happy with the outcome to beat up the executors with. They can start challenging the will in different jurisdictions etc and this will cost and cause a lot of aggravation.

To deal with the affairs of the deceased outside the current jurisdiction, the executor will need a notarised certificate of probate.
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Old 20.04.2021, 18:49
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Re: Will writing problems

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...please can you tell me what you told your ‘English Will Writer’ about including your Swiss assets? ...
Absolutely nothing. The will is about our desired division of assets on death. The technicalities do not go into the will. That's the executors problem. Which could be me if my wife dies first.

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To deal with the affairs of the deceased outside the current jurisdiction, the executor will need a notarised certificate of probate.
Not according to the notary I consulted. With some countries - and at the time the UK was one - so long as neither of you is Swiss, the Swiss will follow the rules of your home country. Of course that might have been an agreement within the EU, so the UK would now be different...

I suggest Triceratops consult a local notary or lawyer for a definitive answer. For me and my wife, hopefully it will be moot because we'll be under Swiss law soon.
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Old 20.04.2021, 19:06
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Re: Will writing problems

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To deal with the affairs of the deceased outside the current jurisdiction, the executor will need a notarised certificate of probate.
AKA the infamous "Certificate of Inheritance".

BTDT, as MIL had property in Italy, and ten years later we are still dealing with that.

Tom
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Old 21.04.2021, 11:58
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Re: Will writing problems

If you want professional advice on cross-border inheritance / will drafting I can recommend my colleague https://www.walderwyss.com/kinga.weiss
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