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Legal protection

Inheriting without a marriage licence

A lot of couples live with each other without being married. They face the issue of what inheritance rights they have if one of them dies. Helvetia explains here how you can make provision for each other in this kind of situation

19 May 2018, author: Hansjörg Ryser, foto: Helvetia

The pictures shows an elderly man and a woman. There is a landscape in the background.
Cohabiting couples who do not have any legal inheritance rights can still make provision for each other.

Cohabiting couples have no legal inheritance rights, irrespective of how long they have already been living together. If you or your partner have children, they are the primary beneficiaries; if not your parents will inherit. Nevertheless, there are a few precautions you can take to make provision for each other.

Make a will and inheritance contract to settle the disposable part

Your primary option here is to use a will or inheritance contract to limit the legal beneficiaries’ share to the statutory entitlement. There will be no first-pillar pension.

Second pillar entitlement

Pension fund rules may provide for a second-pillar death benefit if the surviving partner has to support a child of which the deceased was father or mother, if the deceased materially supported the surviving partner or if the couple had lived together continuously for more than five years. However, the partnership must have been reported to the pension fund. Vested benefits may even have to be shared with the deceased’s former spouse if the deceased did not specifically request payment to his or her partner.

Third-pillar entitlement

Pillar 3a offers you greater freedom if you are not married and satisfy the same conditions as in the second pillar because it enables you to make provision for your partner even if you have children. However, the pension fund must be notified of this provision. In pillar 3b you are largely free to make provision for whoever you like as long as you respect the statutory entitlement. You are even free from the obligation to respect the statutory entitlement if your insurance only covers death.