Private clients

The Firm Borel & Barbey is reputed for its lengthy experience and great expertise in advising both individuals and businesses on estate and succession planning. We provide legal advice on all aspects of inheritance, immigration, tax, art and family law issues. Many of the families we work with have been our clients for several generations, which attests to their satisfaction and trust in our expertise.

Our clients are regularly confronted with international estate planning, wealth management and dispute-resolution issues and are looking for advice that goes beyond Swiss borders. Thanks to the wide range of expertise available in our Firm, we are able to offer tailor-made advice that covers every legal and financial aspect of the proposed solution.

Our Firm can help you provide administrative services for trusts and companies as well as family office services in Switzerland and Gibraltar.

Planning once’s estate may be essential to avoid any conflicts or complications that typically arise between heirs or beneficiaries, or simply for financial reasons. Also, private individuals may want to devote resources to charitable endeavours during their lifetime or upon their death, such as by setting up a non-profit foundation or association. We help our clients to make this process as smooth as possible and to anticipate any financial or practical risks.

Advisory services and legal representation relating to non-contentious and contentions matters on estates, trusts, associations and foundations form an integral part of our private client group’s activities. These include tax planning advice for donations and gifts between private individuals, charitable organisations and corporations. We represent trustees and beneficiaries in the context of important disputes associated with trusts.

We advise our clients in estate planning matters by structuring and preparing wills, succession agreements, prenuptial agreements, donations or gifts, mandates in anticipation of mental incapacity, constitutive deeds and articles of association for foundations (including family foundations).

Clients may also wish to have one of our specialist lawyers act as the executor of their estate pursuant to testamentary dispositions. An executor’s tasks typically includes filing the required documents and forms with the competent court and authorities, taking appropriate measures for the administration and preservation of the estate as well as distributing the estate’s assets in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.

Our team provides advice on all aspects relating to the Swiss Civil Code, in particular dealing with the distribution of assets to the heirs, the use of the discretionary share of the estate, the status of any attributions made among living persons and issues arising from international private law, including any tax concerns.

We are also active in the field of trusts through various partners.

There are many different forms of philanthropic actions or donations involving a variety of charitable fields such as the arts and culture, science and research, health, education, sports, the environment, economic development and the fight against poverty. We basically offer advice to individuals, institutions and legal entities exercising charitable activities in Switzerland and/or abroad.

Our clients regularly ask us for assistance with creating and managing charitable organizations, such as associations, private, family, or corporate foundations, and with setting up public-private partnerships. We have lengthy experience in advising individuals, companies, international entities and non-profit organizations on every aspect of their charitable activities, including regulatory compliance, the appropriate legal structure, the tax implications and food governance. Our expertise also covers questions of immigration law, employment law and estate law related to donations and philanthropic entities.

The growing complexity of the art market requires appropriate advice based on expertise concerning the risks and implications of the intended business or undertaking. Although creating, trading and marketing artworks may be a source of pleasure, income and wealth, it also entails certain risks and responsibilities that you need to anticipate.

Borel & Barbey has expertise in advising and conflict resolution concerning every aspect of artworks and cultural assets, along with the performing arts, music and publishing.

Well acquainted with the mechanisms of the art market, we advise artists and their estates, collectors, museums, foundations, galleries, auction houses, brokers, restoration specialists, experts, and other stakeholders involved in the art market, including banks, insurers and transport companies.

We are often asked to assist our clients with transactions, import/export, loans, taxes, insurance, transport, authentication and appraisal of artworks and cultural assets, copyright protection for artists, financial products backed by art and the creation of cultural institutions.

Our expertise also covers the fields of publishing, entertainment and the performing arts, providing advice for authors, musicians, composers, performing artists, producers, directors, actors and other players in those fields.

We often publish and lecture on legal aspects governing art, cultural heritage and copyright.

Charitable organizations are actively involved in the philanthropic actions and contribute to social welfare. Individuals and enterprises wish more and more to devote their time and money to charities. We often assist in the set up and management of a charity or foundation to ensure that it meets their expectations and needs as well as the statutory, regulatory, and governance requirements. We make sure that the donations of companies are structured to best meet their charitable aims and objectives of corporate social responsibility. We also provide advice on inheritance law and tax considerations relevant to philanthropic undertakings.

We represent numerous foundations and associations in their dealings with regulatory bodies and authorities and in contentious matters.

Families may wish to manage, protect and convey their legacies to future generations or dedicated structures. In so doing, a large number of possibilities and considerations come into play. Their efforts, interests and personal situations may be taken into account through tailor-made solutions.

Borel & Barbey has advised families over several generations on their private and professional problems, which attests to the faith they place in our advice.

Families are built, fall apart and are rebuilt once again. With over a hundred years of experience, Borel & Barbey has guided families through difficult transitions – before the courts and through amicable negotiations. Our dedicated teams establish authentic cooperative relationships with families that succeed in meeting legal, financial or reputational challenges.

Although Swiss law tends to favour freedom of contract in family relations, the interplay between Swiss law and international law sometimes displays inconsistencies and leads to unexpected results. We work together with foreign experts to adapt our clients’ agreements to faithfully reflect the dignity of those who have built unique family bonds amongst themselves.

Our action-oriented teamwork with our clients is aimed at assessing and mitigating internal and external risks. We also consider the family’s particular needs for emotional stability and unity, along with the cultural backgrounds of the family members, if necessary. We believe that lasting, strategic advice should enable resolving present conflicts and anticipating future disputes.

Some affluent families and individuals have created their own family office, either through our Firm or on their own. Thanks to a family office, they can restructure their wealth and improve the management and administration of their assets by centralizing the related services and monitoring by third-party professionals (banks, wealth managers, accountants, etc.). Individuals may wish to determine the best way to set up and manage such a family office, a well as best geographical location for its operations.

Buying, selling and exhibiting works of art is a sophisticated line of business. Art dealers and collectors regularly promote artists and exchange their works. Art brokers and auction houses endeavour to obtain the best deal for the clients. Given the high stakes, it may be crucial to get legal advice from experts familiar with the risks and pitfalls of the art market. Clients should especially make sure to conduct reasonable due diligence and draw up comprehensive agreements to be properly protected in a planned transaction or business deal.

Moreover, there are legal and tax implications that you need to anticipate when holding and trading in artworks.

We have many years of proven experience in advising collectors and dealers on how to structure art transactions and deals, transport artwork, protect their art investments and conduct due diligences, including issues of authenticity, title, origin, condition, and customs.

We also take part in various complex contentious matters concerning art-related lawsuits under criminal or civil law.

Borel & Barbey have lengthy experience and an established expertise in advising both businesses and individuals on all aspects of inheritance, immigration, tax, art and family law issues.  Art institutions and artists seek our advice in particular on aspects of estate and succession planning and copyright.

Our clients are regularly confronted with international estate planning, wealth management and dispute-resolution issues and are looking for advice that goes beyond Swiss borders. Thanks to the wide range of expertise available in our Firm, we are able to offer tailor-made advice that covers every legal and financial aspect of the proposed solution.

Our Firm can help you provide administrative services for trusts and companies as well as family office services in Switzerland and Gibraltar.


In addition, our team has vast practical knowledge and experience in handling immigration matters, including those related to nationality law.

As part of our immigration practice, we regularly advise our clients on all aspects of taking up residency in Switzerland, applying for work permits (with or without professional activity), authorizations (short-term, residence and cross-border work permits) and visas, as well as announcing short-term activities.

Our team works closely with the firm’s paralegals to ensure that any immigration problem encountered by our clients during the authorization and naturalization process is addressed efficiently.

In addition, we keep our clients informed of the latest legislative developments that may affect their status in Switzerland as well as their activities.


Marc Fischer

Managing partner