Fidei Comissum

A fidei comissum (German: Fideikomiss or Familienfideikomiss) is a form of trust under civil law which closely resembles a common law fee tail trust. This type of trust is always linked to real estate. The trust deed of a fidei comissum trust forbids both the trustee and the trust beneficiary from selling the entrusted property. Trust beneficiaries receive usufructuary rights to the entrusted property, but do not receive ownership rights.

The trust deed also specifies the legal heir of the entrusted property. For example, the trust deed of a fidei comissum may specify that the trust beneficiaries will always be the children of the previous trust beneficiary. In this way, the creator of a fidei comissum trust can determine who will own and manage their assets over more than one generation. This sets them apart from most other types of trusts, which name specific trust beneficiaries.

The creation of new fidei comissum trusts in Switzerland is currently prohibited under Article 335 of the Swiss Civil Code, but fidei comissum trusts predating the prohibition remain in place.

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