If you do not wish to accept an inheritance, you must notify the competent authority at the deceased person's last place of residence within three months by registered letter.
In this case, your share of the estate goes to your statutory heirs, who in turn have three months to renounce it. If all the heirs renounce their inheritance, it will be liquidated by the bankruptcy office in the deceased's last canton of residence. The available assets are subsequently used to pay the deceased’s debts.
You can renounce your share of the estate even if the person whose assets you are to inherit is still alive. To do this, you need to enter into a contract of succession with the person concerned.
You can obtain information about a deceased person's financial situation, for example, from their last tax return, or from their bank statements or an extract from the debt enforcement register. You will normally receive this information by presenting a certificate of inheritance.
If you are not sure how large the estate is, you can request the competent authority to make a public inventory.
In a public inventory, the authority draws up a publicly accessible list of the assets and debts that make up the estate. To arrange this, you must, within one month of learning of the death of the person concerned, request the inventory from the authority responsible for inheritance matters in the deceased's last place of residence.
The authority will make the necessary enquiries and draw up the inventory. Depending on what assets make up the estate and the deceased's financial circumstances, these enquiries can take several months.
The inventory gives you a complete overview of the assets that make up the estate. This allows you and the other heirs to decide individually whether or not to accept your respective inheritances.
For further questions on how and when an inheritance can or should be renounced, it is best to contact a law firm or notary's office.