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FINALLY A TRUST IN SWITZERLAND![1]

The Federal Council is proposing, on behalf of Parliament, to introduce this new legal instrument into the Code of Obligations. At its meeting on 12 January 2022, it sent its draft for consultation.

The trust is an ancient legal institution under Anglo-Saxon law. Although not provided for in our legal system, it has been recognised in Switzerland since the entry into force, on 1 July 2007, of the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and their Recognition of 1 July 1985.

According to Art. 11 para. 1 of the Convention, a trust validly constituted under the applicable foreign law is recognised in the other States parties to the Convention.

Given the complexity and flexibility of this institution, which may take several forms and pursue different purposes, there is no single definition of a trust. At the international level, the Convention has proposed the following definition in Art. 2(1): "[...] the term "trust" refers to the legal relationships created - inter vivos or on death - by a person, the settlor, when assets have been placed under the control of a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary or for a specified purpose.".

The trust is therefore an institution with three parties:

- the settlor, who may be a natural or legal person, is the one who transfers his property to the trustee

- the trustee is the person who formally holds the assets, who becomes the "legal owner" of them

- the beneficiaries, who for the sake of simplicity can be indicated as the economic owners of the trust property.

The trust may be constituted by inter vivos trust or by testamentary trust. It should be noted that the deed of trust is a unilateral act of the settlor, not subject to the acceptance of the trustee, and that the trust does not have legal personality, which distinguishes it from the institution of the foundation.

In Switzerland, trusts are an important asset planning instrument, particularly in the area of inheritance, to enable the transmission of assets over several generations.

In order to prevent Swiss clients from having to turn to foreign countries to set up trusts, Parliament has instructed the Federal Council, through motion 18.3383, to create the legal basis for the introduction of this institution in Swiss law.

If the trust were to be introduced in our country, it would be necessary to adapt the Code of Obligations and other federal laws, in particular tax laws, which would explicitly specify the rules to which the trust would be subject.

The consultation procedure opened by the Federal Council on 12 January 2022 will last until 30 April 2022.

For further information, please visit

https://www.admin.ch/gov/fr/accueil/documentation/communiques.msg-id-86746.html

 


[1] Inspired by the article of Stefano Rizzi: https://ambrosioecommodo.it/approfondimenti/finalmente-il-trust-svizzero-2/