Checklist after death Switzerland.

What you need to do after a relative dies.

Ágnes Erdős

Ágnes has been working as a product manager at Generali since January 2023, and is responsible for digital pillar 3a and risk products. Ágnes has more than ten years of experience as a life insurance product manager. She began her career at Generali in Hungary, where she was responsible for single premium investment products for banks.

If a loved one dies, there are many administrative tasks to take care of and decisions to make. Our checklist will help you navigate through the maze of rights, obligations and regulations that you have to be aware of after a death.

1. Inform the family

The first step is to inform close relatives about the death. Organising everything that needs to be done can be overwhelming, so ask family members for support. Alternatively, you could also provide a private funeral home or burial office with the authority to take care of all the formalities. There are different regulations for each canton or municipality, so it’s best to look at the relevant website for more information.


2. Death certificate

If the person died in a hospital or care home, then you will automatically receive a death certificate signed by a doctor. If the person died a natural death outside of a medical institution, such as at home, then call your GP or the emergency services (tel. 144). They will confirm the death and issue a death certificate.


3. Register the death

In Switzerland, a death must be registered with the civil register office at the place the person died within two days. This will be done automatically if the person died in a medical institution, otherwise family members or a funeral home must register the death. 

To do so, you will need the following documents:

  • Death certificate from a doctor or medical institution
  • Family register of the deceased person
  • Identity card / passport of the deceased person
  • Settled foreign nationals permit
  • Any other documents requested by the civil register office

Once the death has been registered and notarised, the civil register office will issue the official death certificate.


4. Funeral

In Switzerland, a funeral cannot take place until the death has been confirmed by the civil register office. You can then take this confirmation to the municipality, or to the funeral home helping you make arrangements. In many Swiss municipalities, burial or cremation is free of charge. If you wish to engage a funeral home, ask for a quote.

The funeral company will discuss the deceased person’s wishes with you:

  • Did they want to be cremated or buried?
  • What should the urn or coffin look like?
  • When will the funeral take place?
  • How many guests are coming (only close family, open to the public?)
  • At what cemetery is the deceased going to be buried?
  • Will there be a religious ceremony?
  • What type of grave did they want?


5. Obituary

As a general rule, the relevant authority will publish an official obituary in a regional paper or on relevant websites. In addition, loved ones often choose to create a private obituary in the form of a funeral announcement that provides information on the death as well as the burial and funeral. The funeral director will help you to write and print the obituary and have it published in the paper.


6. Home

If the person who has died lived in a rental apartment, you will need to speak to the management company or landlord as soon as possible to inform them of the death. They will let you know when the apartment needs to be emptied.

If the deceased owned their own home, all further steps will be clarified as part of the inheritance process.


7. Authorities, contracts and running costs

In addition to registering the death with the civil register office, you will also have to inform additional authorities and insurance companies. You will also want to stop any running costs as quickly as possible:

  • AHV, IV, supplementary benefits office, social security office: if the person has died towards the end of the month, you will need to call these offices to ensure that any annuity contributions are stopped
  • Inform the bank and post office
  • Leasing fees
  • Inform the tax office
  • Health insurance, pension fund, additional insurances
  • Cancel telephone and internet contracts, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, clubs/associations, SBB subscription, etc.
  • Inform Spitex, meal delivery service, etc.


8. Inheritance

Once you have organised the funeral and informed all responsible authorities, you will have to start organising the inheritance.

  • Is there a will? In that case, you must present it to the authorities and get a notarised power of attorney for the heirs.
  • The rules of intestate succession apply automatically if the deceased did not have a will.
  • Determine the heirs.
  • Create an inventory of real estate, jewellery, vehicles, etc., for the distribution of inheritance.
  • Secure any loans or assets.
  • Have the tax office carry out a tax inventory.

Inheritance is a very complex subject, so it is best to consult an expert.


9. Benefits for surviving dependants

In the event of death, loved ones have a right to collect benefits. It is essential that you research what social security and insurance benefits you are entitled to, such as:

  • Widower’s or widow’s pension
  • Orphan’s pension
  • Supplementary benefits
  • Survivor’s pension from the pension fund
  • Insurance policies or life insurance

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