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Common-law partners do not have the same legal status as married couples. They do not inherit from their partner by law. Consequently, they must make arrangements in advance through the use of a will, a marriage agreement and providing appropriate instructions to the pension fund.

Differences in the three pillars

AHV does not provide a widow’s or widower’s pension in the event of death of the partner. Pension funds can voluntarily stipulate the payment of a common-law partner’s pension. It is possible to make the common-law partner the beneficiary, however, only if the deceased does not leave behind a spouse or children (until age 18, or 25 if still in education). In the case of the pension funds, the respective pension fund regulations decide what the survivors’ benefits are for common-law partners.

At least one of the following requirements must be met:

  • Considerable support provided to the surviving partner by the deceased
  • At least five years of uninterrupted living together before the death
  • The surviving partner must provide for at least one mutual child.

Under similar conditions, you can also assign the funds in your Pillar 3a account to your common-law partner.

Inheritance agreement and will

In the case of the estate, you must take into account the legal requirements. If you have children, three quarters of the inheritance must go to them by law. If there are no children, but your parents are still alive, then your parents have the right to one half of your estate. This means that you can assign to your common-law partner only that portion of the estate that is still available for inheritance. Please note that a will or an inheritance agreement is always needed for this. Attention: The inheritance going to common-law partners could be taxed at high inheritance tax rates in some cantons: An inheritance in Geneva of 200,000 francs would be taxed 104,500 francs, while the tax on the same amount in Aarau would be 9,800 francs.