Registered relationships: preparing for emergencies

Jun 21, 2021.

Imagine the unthinkable: Something happens that greatly affects your partner, or even costs them their life. In this kind of overwhelming situation, you have neither the time nor the energy to take care of financial and organisational problems. If you’re in a registered relationship, it’s a good idea to tackle such topics as living wills, lasting power of attorney and inheritance as early as possible. Generali expert Guido Studier has the answers to all the key questions.


Guido, what happens if an accident or illness leaves a partner in a registered relationship with impaired judgement?

If there is no living will or lasting power of attorney, it is automatically up to the state to step in and make decisions. For example, in situations where the signatures of both partners are required or if the partner with impaired judgement requires a care facility. In this case, the KESB (children and adult protection authority) is responsible. If you want to retain your autonomy and don’t want to burden your partner with medical and legal decisions, you need to regulate everything that’s important to you with a living will and lasting power of attorney. This applies to registered relationships as well as marriages and is generally recommended for every person who is at least 18 years old and capable of judgement.


What does a lasting power of attorney actually cover?

It allows you to proactively appoint your representative in the event that you are no longer capable of making decisions yourself. This representative could be your partner, but it could also be a lawyer, a family member or a good friend. Lasting power of attorney consists of three parts. First, the personal power of attorney determines where you want to live in the event that you need care, and who will be responsible for that care. The second part regulates who should manage the assets of the person concerned and how, and what business matters are important to them if they are self-employed. Important: it must be written in your own hand or publicly notarised. And the third part of the lasting power of attorney covers legal matters.


And what is the living will for?

Here you can record which medical measures you want and which you absolutely do not – resuscitation, artificial respiration or feeding? If there is no living will, the medical staff must decide together with the partner of the person concerned. Or the KESB appoints an adviser to take over. The best idea is to leave your living will with your GP and with your closest relatives.


Generali tip: Sample forms are available at FMH,the SRK and Caritas.


Let’s assume the worst case scenario: death. What do couples in registered relationships need to be aware of?

The division of the inheritance is clearly regulated by law. Normally, the registered partner and any children inherit the deceased person’s assets. If a couple have no children, the parents can also inherit. In 2023, we expect to see changes in inheritance law which will favour the surviving person in a registered relationship more. If the deceased partner has a child, the surviving partner will be able to inherit up to 75% of the assets. If there are no children, the survivor can inherit 100% of the assets, as the parents will no longer be entitled to a statutory share. But if you want to determine this distribution yourself, you need to draw up an inheritance contract or a will. This is especially true for home ownership, when you have invested a lot of money together and the legal heirs could insist on their share of the inheritance.


How is the surviving partner in a registered relationship covered in the event of death?

Let’s take a look at occupational and private pensions. The surviving partner is generally entitled to a survivor’s pension from the AHV and the BVG if the deceased person was employed. A man in a registered relationship will only receive the AHV pension if he has children who are younger than 18 years. And there are conditions for the BVG pension as well. The best thing here is to contact a specialist. With pillar 3a, the registered partner is always the primary beneficiary. For pillar 3b, the policyholder can decide for themselves who receives money, and how much.


Good to know

Assets, children and separation in a registered relationship: the key information.

Changes if marriage equality is adopted in September 2021

Registered partners will have to actively have their registered relationship converted to a marriage. Participation in acquired property will apply as standard, as in the case of marriage, and you can adjust it yourself through the marriage contract. There is still some uncertainty around the first and second pillar, which will have to be adjusted for same-sex couples.


About the author

“If you want to retain your autonomy and don’t want to burden your partner with medical and legal decisions, you need to regulate everything that’s important to you with a living will and lasting power of attorney.” 


Guido G. Studier, Training Expert at Generali

Guido studied business economics and is a VBV-certified insurance specialist (Federal Diploma). He has been in the insurance industry for 25 years and trains insurance experts in the Generali Academy. Guido has an Executive Master of Finance ZHAW and is also an EHB-certified teacher of economics and society (Federal Diploma) and a member of #TeamPensions.