Guardianship provision – guardian in case of death

What is a guardianship provision?

In principle, Swiss law provides for legal provisions when parents decease. If only one parent dies, custody usually remains with the surviving parent – given this is within the best interest of the child. This is automatically the case for parents who are married, as well as those who are legally separated or divorced with joint custody.  If both parents have deceased, e.g. in an accident, the court usually first looks for a suitable guardian within the family. This can be difficult due to various reasons (e.g. age of the grandparents etc.). A person outside the family can also be appointed as guardian, even a stranger. To prevent this, it is recommended to make a guardianship provision, especially in patchwork families. Parents can appoint one or multiple people who can be considered as guardians for their child/children.

What is to be considered?

The guardianship provision does not have to be written by hand – it suffice to type it up and print it out. It must be dated and signed by the parent/s. You can make separate provisions – one regarding the guardianship (who the children should be raised by) and one regarding the asset management. It is also possible to have two different people appointed for the two tasks – e.g. when one person has more experience with raising children but has no knowledge in asset management (and vice versa). It is advisable to appoint a substitute if the first choice cannot serve as guardian. An explanation should also be given if you feel that a particular person should not be the guardian – this will allow authorities to follow your reasoning. It should be noted that the guardianship provision should subsequently be adapted to current life situations as relationships often change. If the appointed guardian is no longer an option due to the changed circumstances, you should update your provision. As already mentioned above, such a guardianship provision serves as help and is not legally binding for the decising authority.

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