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Requesting a certificate of inheritance

What is a certificate of inheritance and when do I need one?

The certificate of inheritance provides confirmation of the persons entitled to inherit and is needed in order to dispose of the assets making up the deceased's estate according to the will or by law. Financial institutions will demand a certificate of inheritance before money can be withdrawn from the deceased's accounts. A certificate of inheritance is also required when the deceased's real estate is transferred or sold. 

How much does a certificate of inheritance cost?

The fee for issuing a certificate of inheritance varies from case to case. It ranges from several hundred to several thousand francs. It does not include the additional costs of obtaining certificates from register offices or other information in Switzerland and abroad. You can reduce the costs by ordering the minimum number of originals of the certificate of inheritance.

How long does it take for a certificate of inheritance to be issued?

Even in cases where it is easy to establish who the heirs are, it takes 6 to 12 weeks before a certificate of inheritance is issued.

Who can request a certificate of inheritance?

  • If there is no will or contract of succession: the statutory heirs have the right to request a certificate of inheritance
  • With a will or contract of inheritance:A certificate of inheritance cannot be requested until official confirmation has been granted by the court. The official confirmation will show who is entitled to request the certificate of inheritance.

Where can I get a certificate of inheritance?

Depending on the canton, certificates of inheritance are normally issued by the office responsible for inheritance matters in the relevant commune. (DE: Erbschaftsamt, Teilungsamt/-behörde; FR: service des successions). The district prefecture (Regierungsstatthalteramt) may also be responsible.

In order to obtain a certificate of inheritance, you must

  • provide a copy of the death certificate (available from the civil register office);
  • prove that you are entitled to inherit (extract from the civil register);
  • prove that you have not disclaimed your inheritance (declaration of acceptance from all statutory and named heirs or proof that the time limit for a disclaimer has expired).

Ordering a certificate of inheritance from the competent authority

Find out where the deceased's last place of residence was.