Swiss woman loses 3 million franc inheritance over lack of signature

Swiss woman loses 3 million franc inheritance over lack of signature

A woman from Basel has been left with a huge legal bill after she was denied her three million Swiss franc inheritance due to the lack of a signature. The deceased relative whose estate is now being divided wrote a new amendment to her will just two days before her passing, leaving everything to her cousin - but made the mistake of not signing it. 

Deceased relative intended for everything to go to her cousin

Shortly before the deceased cousin passed away, she wrote a letter expressing her intention to have the old will disregarded, with the new version passing everything on to her cousin. The letter should have guaranteed her cousin a windfall, but after the Swiss courts found the note was missing a signature, they denied her cousin access to the funds. 

Instead, the woman will now have to pay huge legal fees to her Swiss lawyers, despite losing the case. The woman’s bill currently stands at 250.000 Swiss francs, and after the court’s two rulings, she has little chance of recovering the 3,1 million francs for herself. 

Court believed woman would not “forget” to sign her will

The court’s reason for denying the case was clear: despite the note being handwritten with the name of the deceased at the top, the fact that she never signed it was suspicious. The court felt that because the woman in question had led a professional life, it was very unlikely that she would have simply forgotten to sign her new will, rather she simply changed her mind and never signed the note. 

As a final step, the woman could now take the case to the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne. The other party that has for now been awarded the contents of the will contested the handwritten letter after an initial court process ruled in favour of the cousin. However, during a second hearing, the judge ruled in favour of the other party. Neither side has been willing to settle so far.



Emily Proctor

Former Editor at IamExpat Media.

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