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Need help communicating with a Swiss bank

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Zettworks
Zettworks
4 posts
new member
Feb 7, 2021 - 2:31 AM

I need help communicating with a financial institution in Switzerland, specifically safest way to approach the bank regarding my late husband's account there. Thank you.

Arno
Arno
14436 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 7, 2021 - 3:10 PM

Hi Zettworks,

Welcome to MySwissAlps! I'm not sure what you mean by "safest way". Please provide more information, and keep in mind that we're a website about tourism.

Thanks!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7565 posts
expert
Feb 7, 2021 - 8:33 PM in reply to Arno

Would a consulate, of Switzerland or of Zettworks home country, be a possibility?

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
14436 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 8, 2021 - 8:21 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

That may be useful indeed. Or perhaps a domestic bank with international contacts. It really depends on what it's all about.

mestettler
mestettler
22 posts
new member
Feb 8, 2021 - 10:02 PM in reply to Zettworks

Hello Zettworks,

I have had some experience with Credit Suisse regarding my mother's account that she opened in 1943-ish when she was a nursing student in Hergiswil, and maintained during her lifetime. In 1954 my mother immigrated to America, where she lived until she died in 2017.

I mother had added me to the account in the 1990s. I had bank statements from Credit Suisse, so I wrote a letter to the gentleman listed on the statements indicating that my mother had passed, and that I wanted to maintain the account, as is, so I could withdraw money when I was in Switzerland, which I was planning to do May to August 2018. I received a letter back from the bank stating that since my mother had passed I would have to close the account. WHAT?!?!?! WHY?!?!?!

Apparently Credit Suisse does not allow accounts belonging to Americans (unless you're Tina Tuner and have at least $500,000 CHF to deposit). Mama's account only had $72,000 CHF. I sent another letter stating when I would be in Switzerland, and that I would make an appointment with him to close the account. I called him when I was in Switzerland, to make an appointment, but he said an appointment was not necessary, all he needed was the routing and account number of my account in America. I asked why, when the account was opened when my mother was in her late teens, would I have to close it? Again I was told Credit Suisse does not hold accounts for Americans, so I had to close it in August 2018, at the end of my vacation there.

While I was in Switzerland, I went to UBS, which has branches in both Switzerland and America, to inquire if I could open an account there with the $72,000 CHF from Credit Suisse. The answer at UBS was also no, they do not wish to hold any accounts for Americans. I asked how much money would be needed to open an account and was told $400,000 CHF. Unbelievable.

For me, the saddest part about not being allowed to open a Swiss bank account is the fact that I want to rent or buy a small apartment for myself. I want to live in Switzerland because it's much more elderly friendly, but that's another story. I'll look into that the next time I'm in Switzerland, hopefully this summer.

Myriam

Ddevido
Ddevido
1 post
new member
Feb 8, 2021 - 10:15 PM in reply to Zettworks

Check your husbands Will, and see if he indicated that he left the Swiss account to you, or all his possessions to you. If so, fly to Switzerland with the Will and proceed to the bank. If you have a valid Will they will honor your husbands wishes that you have the account. They will transfer the account to you and then you can do what you want with money in the account.

Zettworks
Zettworks
4 posts
new member
Feb 10, 2021 - 12:07 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Excellent idea. Thank you. Will do that too.

Zettworks
Zettworks
4 posts
new member
Feb 10, 2021 - 12:20 AM in reply to Arno

Thank you. I understand.

Zettworks
Zettworks
4 posts
new member
Feb 10, 2021 - 12:20 AM in reply to mestettler

Quite an interesting story. Thanks and all the best to you.

Ildiko
Ildiko
1076 posts
top member &
moderator
Feb 10, 2021 - 7:49 AM in reply to mestettler

Hi Myriam,

interesting story. According to my experiences, it is not against the American people, I guess it is the same for everybody. My friend tried to open a Swiss Bank account, he lives in Hungary and is Hungarian and he received the same answer, it needs to put on the account 4-500 000 CHF otherwise he cannot have an account.

So I think it is the same rule for every non-resident.

Ildiko

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7565 posts
expert
Feb 10, 2021 - 1:30 PM in reply to Ildiko

Hi Ildiko -

I am a citizen of the USA and that is my country of residence.. For many years, I kept a small amount of funds at an account with Swiss Post Finance.

Then the US government set up reporting requirements for record keeping for US funds held in foreign counties. The paper work...every year... was too expensive to manage for small accounts, and many Swiss institutions refused to maintain small accounts from US citizens. The was also some concern about potential future taxation or other issues...don't recall the details.

Basically, if you wish to keep enough funds in a Swiss bank to make it worth their effort and cost to meet the regulations, and allow a bank to make a good profit lending out your funds on deposit their, since they pay rather low interest rates, you usually can open an account.

About the time that this expensive solution became available, wide-spread use of credit cards, plus the creation of the Euro, made it much easier to move money from country to country, so the need for multiple accounts in different counties was reduced.. a lot.

Switzerland, of course, did not join the Euro currency union.

There are more political and financial issues than this, but, that is a basic explanation.

As usual. the little guy gets hurt, while those with enough funds can find a way to get things done.

That is my memory, for what it is worth.

Slowpoke

Ildiko
Ildiko
1076 posts
top member &
moderator
Feb 10, 2021 - 7:01 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

thanks for the explanation. I get it now.

Take care, Ildiko

For those, who would like to read a bit about the Swiss government: www.myswissalps.com/aboutswitzerland/culturehistory/government and the Swiss Franc: www.myswissalps.com/swissfranc

Last modified on Feb 10, 2021 - 7:01 PM by Ildiko
Janice3401
Janice3401
7 posts
new member
Feb 10, 2021 - 7:24 PM in reply to mestettler

Hello--

Foreigners (at least Americans) can open Swiss bank accounts, under very restrictive conditions. I am an American, own a (vacation) apartment in Switzerland and have an account at a cantonal/regional bank, which is probably the only type of bank you will be able to access without depositing a lot of money at or using the wealth management services of the big multinationals such as Credit Suisse, UBS, etc.

You need to have a reason to open an account (in my case, managing the payment of taxes, bills, rental income, of my apartment, etc.), make an application, and pay an annual maintenance fee of at least 7,000 Swiss francs. Even better is to have a local accountant be a "co-owner" of your account who oversees and carries out the transactions on your behalf. In this situation, I think the bank's annual fee is waived.

My cantonal bank issues an ATM card that allows me to withdraw the daily limit of cash. However, the ATM card cannot be used anywhere else (other banks for cash withdrawals, for retail purchases, etc.). I have wire transferred money from a US financial institution to this account without any problem (it was a small sum) but have not tried to wire transfer any money from Switzerland to the U.S. I think any large financial transaction would draw a lot of scrutiny.

Janice

Ildiko
Ildiko
1076 posts
top member &
moderator
Feb 10, 2021 - 7:30 PM in reply to Janice3401

Hi Janice,

thanks for your help and added information.

Ildiko

mestettler
mestettler
22 posts
new member
Feb 11, 2021 - 12:32 AM in reply to Ildiko

This is why I love myswissalps, there is so much information available, all you have to do is ask a question. Thank you Zettworks for posting the initial question, and thank you to all who replied.

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