13 May 2024

No Facilitation of (Family) Business Transfers in the Swiss Inheritance Law - Planning Becomes Key

  • Articles
  • Legal
  • Inheritance / Succession
  • Structuring / Relocation

The Council of States has rejected the bill on the facilitation of business succession. As a result, various legal obstacles remain - and the planning of (family-internal) business succession becomes key.

On 12 March 2024, the Council of States (the Swiss Senate) rejected (by 25 votes to 17 with one abstention) the bill on the facilitation of (family) business successions in the Inheritance Law (Press release). Thus, the bill is finally off the table.

If a (family) business succession has not been or could not be planned (e.g. due to internal family difficulties or the unexpected death of the entrepreneur) and if there is no consensus among the heirs, the existing legal obstacles prevent a succession within the family. Unfortunately, the Council of States has decided to maintain this status quo - the reduction of the statutory entitlements (forced heirship) of the offsprings and the abolishment of the statutory entitlements of parents since 1 January 2023 cannot change this situation either.

However, with a professional estate planning, most of the obstacles to (family) business succession can be overcome. It is therefore very important to start succession planning in good time – the earlier the better. There should also be a contingency plan for unforeseen events (such as illness or accident of the entrepreneur). Planning for a successful (family) business succession is a complex and dynamic process that requires careful family and strategic consideration: Succession planning is one of the biggest and most difficult tasks for an entrepreneur. The MME team of experts in family business and company succession will be happy to assist you and look forward to hearing from you with any respective questions.

Last year, the new 5th edition of the "Praxiskommentar Erbrecht" was published (in German) by Helbling Lichtenhahn. The two co-authors, MME Partner Dr Balz Hösly and MME Senior Associate MLaw Nadira Zellweger-Ferhat, have contributed with the brand-new appendix "Unternehmensnachfolge" with many practical tips for regulating succession issues in family businesses.