If the testator gives too much to someone, the heir entitled to a compulsory share may request a reduction. It is like shortening pants. You take away as much as you can until it fits, or you reduce it to the permissible level.
Sequence of reduction
The revised law of inheritance expressed itself on the order of reduction: first acquisitions according to the legal succession, then dispositions upon death, finally idspositions inter vivos, such as marriage and property contracts.
Your next of kin are legally entitled to a portion of your assets upon your death and, in principle, cannot be deprived of it. What cannot be withheld is deemed to be the available quota. You can dispose of this freely. If you dispose of more than the available quota, compulsory portions are violated. Although such a will is valid, it can be contested.
An heir’s statutory share may also be infringed by certain inter vivos dispositions. These legal transactions that violate the compulsory portion can also be contested.
Action in abatement
The heir whose compulsory share has been violated has a right to a reduction. He may bring an action in abatement. If he remains passive, he waives the right to a reduction. If he files an action for reduction, he demands that the disposition be reduced to the permissible level.
It’s like shortening pants. You take away as much as you can until it fits.
According to current law, the reduction is primarily subject to dispositions upon death, then to dispositions inter vivos, namely the more recent ones before the earlier ones, until the compulsory portion is reconstituted.
Various issues are disputed under current law
Under the law in force today, the question is disputed as to whether allocations by way of surplus in excess of one half under Art. 216 of the Swiss Civil Code in a marriage contract are deemed to be a disposition upon death or a lifetime contribution.
Furthermore, the reduction of intestate succession is disputed today. Intestate succession means succession according to the law if the testator did not dispose of his estate by will or only disposed of part of it. Thus, the compulsory share of certain heirs may be violated. According to the current legal wording, only the testator’s dispositions are reduced, and not the intestate acquisition. It is disputed whether there is a gap in the law which is closed by recognizing the deductibility of the intestate acquisition.
New, revised law of succession
In the revised law, the order of reduction is recorded.
The intestate succession right, acquisitions according to the legal succession, is now explicitly mentioned as an object of reduction, and is reduced first.
The following are subject to reduction in the following order until the compulsory portion is established: (1) acquisitions in accordance with the legal succession, i.e. intestate succession, (2) dispositions upon death, (3) inter vivos dispositions.
In the case of inter vivos gifts, the following order of reduction applies: (1) the gifts under a marriage or property contract, (2) the freely revocable gifts and the benefits under a restricted personal pension plan (self-provision), in the same proportion, and then (3) the other gifts, the more recent ones before the earlier ones.