Legacies and bequests

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Do good beyond your own life

Do you also want Switzerland to show solidarity? For human rights to be respected around the world? You can make sure that your values live on through your will.

Everything we inherit – be it large or small – helps Public Eye to remain independent from economic interests as it engages for a world with greater justice and solidarity.

More infos

  • What can your donation help us to do?

    For over 50 years, Public Eye (previously the Berne Declaration) has been working to ensure that Swiss companies and politicians live up to their responsibility to respect human rights around the world. Through research, campaigns and the support of our 29,000 members we engage for fairer economic relations in Switzerland.

    Do you share our vision of a fairer world? Help ensure that our engagement for more justice can continue in the future by including us in your will.

    Because global justice begins at home!

    With a legacy or bequest, you can enable us to carry out additional projects. In your will, you can also stipulate what you want your bequest to be spent on. Nevertheless, if you define what you want your bequest to be spent on we ask you to take the following into account: given the nature of why wills are written, there is little certainty over when the money left to us will arrive, and by the same token there is also little certainty as to whether a specific project will still exist in 30 years’ time. We therefore recommend that you use wording that enables us to use your bequest for whatever matter is most urgent – in case the specific project you would ideally like it to be used for no longer exists.

    As a not-for-profit organisation, Public Eye does not pay inheritance tax. Therefore we can use the entirety of your legacy or bequests for our work.

  • Why a will is important

    If you want your estate to be used in a certain way, you should lay out the details in a will.

    Do you want to include your life partner (who you are not married to or who is not registered as your life partner), close friends or not-for-profit organisations? Only a will or an agreement as to succession revokes the legal line of succession and provides you with the freedom to make your own decisions. People with direct successors also have the possibility – within the context of the quota available – to include organisations whose values they share in their will.

    With your last will you ensure clear relations and thereby prevent misunderstandings or even disputes over inheritance. If you have not drafted a will, the legal line of succession will be enacted. If you do not have any relatives, the state inherits your estate.

  • Legal successors

    Without a will, your estate will be distributed according to the law. If you do not have any legal successors, your entire estate can be allocated to the state.

    Along with the surviving life partner (by marriage or registered as such), descendants are the primary successors. In second line come parents of the deceased person and their descendants, followed by grandparents and their descendants. If no such relatives can be found, the state inherits the estate.

    Your surviving spouse and your direct descendants have a legal claim to a share of your estate. This so-called compulsory portion varies between 25% and 50% of the estate, depending on marital status and family situation. The share of the estate that you can dispose of freely is at least half of the total estate. Without heirs who are entitled to a compulsory portion, you are entirely free in your decisions.

    You can easily calculate the legal distribution of your estate as well as the freely available quota according to your current family situation using the DeinAdieu online will generator.

  • Drafting and changing a will

    Before you draft your final will, think carefully about who and what is important in your life. And the impact you want to have when you’re no longer around. Then decide who you want to include in your will and/or who should receive a legacy.

    If you want to include Public Eye in your will, you can do so either by appointing the organisation as an heir or by leaving a bequest, also known as a legacy. Alongside people, organisations such as Public Eye can also be included as heirs in life or pension insurance policies.

    • With a legacy in your will, you entitle Public Eye to a specific amount of money or set of real assets (securities, real estate, life insurance policies, artworks or other items of value).
    • Depending on your civil status, you can also designate Public Eye as part or sole heir, or remainderman. In the latter case, we will only receive our inheritance once the person designated as actual heir has passed away.

    There are two legal ways in which you can draft a legal will – write one by hand or by public certification – and you can amend or revoke the will at any time.

  • Literature

    We recommend the following reading for more in-depth information:

    «Testament, Erbschaft – Wie Sie klare und faire Verhältnisse schaffen» (in German)
    Benno Studer, 268 pages, 16. Edition 2014, ISBN 978-3-85569-862-2, Beobachter (publisher)

    «Erben und Vererben - Vom Testament bis zur Erbteilung: Alles über Erbvorbezüge, Ehe- und Erbverträge, Willensvollstrecker und Pflichtteile» (in German)
    Thomas Gabathuler, 151 pages, 9. Edition 2014, ISBN 978-3-907955-51-2, K-Tipp (publisher)

    «Geld & Herzblut» (in German) by Muriel Bonnardin, 136 pages. CHF 36.- (27.- for Public Eye members). Portraits of 16 people and their testaments, including with addresses and guidelines for drafting a will. If you are interested in this publication please email Chantal Sierro at chantal.sierro@publiceye.ch.

Drafting a will

There are two legal ways in which you can draft a legal will – write one by hand or by public certification – and you can amend or revoke the will at any time.

A hand-written, personal will (according to Art. 505 of the Swiss Civil Code)

The most common and simplest way to draft a will is to draft a hand-written will. You can use DeinAdieu’s will generator to draft a template to fill out by hand in three simple steps.

A hand-written, personal will

  1. In order for it to be legally valid, the entire will must be written by hand and signed.
  2. The place and date must also be written by hand. The same goes for any amendments or additions made at a later stage, although you should avoid crossing out sections or words. It is best to write a second will that replaces the first (see point four).
  3. Give your will a title (‘will’ or ‘last will’) and fill out your personal details (first name, surname, date of birth and address).
  4. If you had already drafted an earlier will, expressly revoke this if you no longer want it to apply. You can avoid misunderstandings by destroying the old will.
  5. Write concisely and choose clear wording to avoid misinterpretation. Who the heir is and who will receive a bequest must be clearly stated.
  6. It is recommended that you name an executor in your will (a lawyer, notary, bank or other person you trust). This ensures that your last will is respected.
  7. If your will is several pages long, number and sign each page.
  8. Give your will to someone with legal training (for example a lawyer, notary or bank) to be reviewed so that you can be sure that your last will is clearly articulated and complies with the applicable legislation.
  9. Keep your will in a safe place, where it will be found at the relevant time – for example, in your place of residence, with your notary or your lawyer.
  10. Review your will when significant changes take place in your life (a birth, death, divorce, significant inheritance) and update it if necessary.


Template: Public Eye as sole heir (in German)

Template: Public Eye as co-heir (in German)

Template: bequest to Public Eye (in German)

A publicly certified will (according to Article. 499 ff. of the Swiss Civil Code)

This form should be used when you have complex family and financial relations, if there are doubts over a person’s presence of mind or if someone is not in a position to write a will themselves. A publicly certified will gives you the security that the form and content of your last will is legally valid. It will be drafted according to your instructions and wishes in the presence of two witnesses and a legally trained person (such as a notary or lawyer). These three people cannot be included in your will.

Personal advice

If your financial or family situation is complex, we recommend that you consult an expert. Our trusted law firm in Zurich offers anyone who wants to include Public Eye in their will with a free initial consultation. Please get in touch with our contact person for this: Anita Weber.

Do you have questions about bequests? Would you like to discuss the matter individually? Arrange a meeting with Anita Weber:

Email: anita.weber@publiceye.ch  
Telephone: +41 (0)44 277 79 11