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Heirs on the Foundation Board - 16 Questions and Answers

Posted by on 29 June 2017

Anyone who establishes a foundation and leads it as the chairman of the board, together with other trusted board members, should consider how it will proceed after the potential occurrence of resignation, incapacity to act, or death. Should one's own family, especially the heirs, continue to operate the foundation in influential positions? 

Or should the remaining foundation board decide themselves on the selection of suitable board members, even if this means that the influence of the family in the established foundation is marginalised? And what happens if the family and the other board members cannot reach an agreement? 

On the basis of a recent federal decision (Federal Supreme Court, judgment of 5 January 2016, 5A_676/2015), the most important topics relating to the influence of the family on a foundation and the election of family members to the foundation board are presented in a question and answer format, and possibilities of organisation are likewise indicated.

Find the answers to the following 16 questions in our PDF (6 pages):

  1. What rights can a founder reserve in the creation of a foundation to himself or to third parties?
  2. Is it possible to reserve a seat for oneself on the foundation board for one's entire lifetime?
  3. Is it also possible for the founder to provide that after his death, his heirs or his spouse will be permanently on the foundation board?
  4. How many members are on the board of a Swiss foundation?
  5. Can the foundation board of a Swiss foundation consist of only one person?
  6. Is there a common practice in Switzerland with regard to the size of the foundation board?
  7. Does the board member of an international foundation need to be Swiss or a resident of Switzerland?
  8. Does a person need to have special skills in order to be elected as a board member?
  9. When does a foundation board mandate begin and end?
  10. Who elects the foundation board?
  11. How is the foundation board elected when the foundation deed does not provide for an electoral procedure?
  12. When does the office of the foundation board begin?
  13. How long is the term of office of a board member?
  14. Can a member of the foundation board be re-elected?
  15. What happens when a board member has a conflict of interest?
  16. Is it necessary to elect the founder or a member of the family in the foundation board by a decision of the board, even if the right to become a member of the board exists in the foundation deed?

Download PDF

Read this article in German: Nachkommen im Stiftungsrat - Zulässigkeit, Modalitäten der Wahl, Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in reading about: What responsabilities does a Representative of the Community of Heirs have? 15 Questions and Answers

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Topics: Private Clients | Charity and Social enterprise

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Oliver Arter

Oliver Arter’s practice focuses on private clients and their advisers (banks, family offices, foreign advisers) in all aspects of domestic and international wealth planning. He also specialises in banking, asset management and regulatory matters. Oliver became of counsel in June 2009. His work involves representing and advising private clients on the structuring of assets (trusts, foundations, international business corporations), domestic and international estate planning, division of estates, execution of wills, matrimonial property rights, advance care directives and living wills, taking up residence and taxation. In addition he advises Swiss and international banks, asset managers, investment advisers and family offices on regulatory and contractual matters and represents them in proceedings. He publishes extensively in all his fields of practice. Oliver is an academic consultant with the Institute for Legal Theory and Legal Practice at the University of St Gallen, and is frequently invited to give lectures and chair conferences. Oliver Arter graduated with a law degree from the University of St Gallen in 1996 and was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 2000. His working languages are German, English and French. He is a member of the Zurich Bar Association, the Swiss Bar Association, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the International Tax Planning Association (ITPA) and the Banking Law Association (“Bankenrechtliche Vereinigung e.V.”). Chambers Global, Chambers Europe, Chambers High Net Worth and Legal500 have ranked him for many years in a row as a leader in the field of private client.

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Daisy Vacher

Daisy Vacher's work focuses on matters of Swiss immigration and the procurement of work permits for companies wanting to employ foreign nationals in Switzerland. Before joining Froriep as an attorney, Daisy Vacher spent three years working for Fragomen Global Immigration Services in Zurich. Before that she was an associate attorney with Izaguirre Law in Colorado Springs, USA. In 2006 she completed her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Arizona followed by her Juris Doctor degree from the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver in 2011. Later that same year she was admitted to the Colorado Bar. She is a native English speaker and has a good command of German, Spanish, French and Italian.

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