The foundation is regulated in Art. 522 § 1 to 41 PGR.
Possible aims of the foundation include:
- settling the succession,
- asset protection,
- securing the economic future of family members or other close individuals, e.g. in the form of maintenance arrangements,
- functioning as a holding to safeguard a corporate portfolio,
- holding of real estate,
- holding of art collections or similar,
- charitable purposes.
The foundation is not allowed to pursue any commercial interests (e.g. trading business).
The foundation is established by a founder dedicating assets to a specific purpose in favour of a specific or specifiable beneficiary. The dedicated assets do no longer form part of the private assets of the founder and form the foundation assets. Later donations are possible.
The statutory minimum capital of the foundation amounts to CHF 30,000.00.
Depending on the purposes of the foundation common-benefit foundations are distinguished from private-benefit foundations, mixed forms are possible.
Charitable foundations have to be registered within the Public Register and are supervised by the Foundation Supervisory Authority. This shall assure that the foundation purpose will be fulfilled even after the death of the founder.
The deposited foundation exists for private-benefit foundations. For the deposited foundation no foundation documents have to be deposited with the Public Register. Therefore this legal type offers utmost discretion for the founder and the beneficiaries.
The founder may reserve special rights (right of withdrawal, right to change, aso.) within the articles and by-laws.
The foundation has neither owners, partners nor members.
The usufructuaries of the foundation are the beneficiaries, who are regularly named by the founder usually in separate by-laws. The founder can appoint himself as a beneficiary. Distributions to beneficiaries may also be made subject to conditions or rules. In order to protect the rights of the beneficiaries the law stipulates wide information rights towards the foundation council.
The foundation is administered by the foundation board, made up of at least two members who represent the foundation solely or jointly. The foundation board exercises the wishes of the founder as recorded in the articles and the by-laws. Therefore the foundation board does not form any intent but only has a serving function.
Within the discretionary foundation, the founder can vest the foundation board with the authority to execute the founder’s will with free and absolute discretion. The basis of this free and absolute discretion is always the founder’s will, determined in the articles and by-laws of the foundation, but it is in the free discretion of the foundation board to effectuate it, e.g. determination of beneficiaries or distributions, aso.
The founder may make provision in the articles of association for further bodies – such as an advisory board, a board of trustees or a protector – to advise, support but also to control the foundation board.
The foundation is cancelled by law, when the objects cannot be achieved anymore, especially when such objects are no longer realisable due to lack of adequate funds (e.g. all of the foundation’s assets have been distributed to the beneficiaries. The founder can stipulate in the articles that the foundation can be dissolved at any time.
The foundation is not obliged to do bookkeeping or auditing.