Heirs on the Foundation Board – 16 Questions and Answers

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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?

In order to download the PDF-file, please click here.

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