Beneficiaries of a foundation in Liechtenstein

Beneficiaries are persons who receive or may receive an economic benefit from the foundation.

Beneficiaries under Liechtenstein law

According to Liechtenstein foundation law, a beneficiary is a natural person or legal entity that receives or may receive an economic benefit from the foundation at any time during the legal existence of the foundation or upon its termination. The term beneficiary includes the beneficiaries, the prospective beneficiaries, the discretionary beneficiaries and the ultimate beneficiaries. They are not of equal rank.

Note: Beneficiaries are usually individualised in the by-laws. The legal status as a beneficiary is generally of a highly personal nature and is not transferable or inheritable – unless the founder expressly instructs otherwise.

Rights of the beneficiaries

The beneficiaries of a foundation are not only its economic beneficiaries, but also have other rights and functions within the statutory foundation governance framework:

In principle, the beneficiaries have their own right to information, disclosure and control vis-à-vis the foundation and can enforce these rights in court.

However, if the foundation is subject to foundation supervision or if the foundation is revocable and the founder is the ultimate beneficiary, the beneficiaries have no information rights.

If the foundation has an independent controlling body, the information rights of the beneficiaries are limited. However, they receive the annual control report prepared by the appointed control body.

If the foundation is neither voluntarily subject to foundation supervision nor does it have an independent supervisory body, the beneficiary has comprehensive information rights:

  • right to information / reporting
  • rights to inspect all business books and
  • comprehensive auditing rights, in particular for accounting

The beneficiary can enforce his rights before the ordinary courts.

Foundation beneficiaries in DE, CH, AT

DE/CH/AT: In all three jurisdictions, the founder can grant the beneficiaries a legally enforceable claim to the foundation benefits. The beneficiaries can assert claims for damages directly against the foundation.
DE: The founder cannot be a beneficiary at the same time. The beneficiary has a general right to information, but no rights of co-operation or control. Beneficiaries only have limited rights vis-à-vis the supervisory authority.
CH: Pure family foundations are not possible in Switzerland. Anyone with a legitimate interest can lodge a complaint with the foundation supervisory authority.
AT: Only the Austrian private foundation provides for a restriction on distributions. The founder can appoint himself as beneficiary. Beneficiaries have few opportunities to participate. Beneficiaries with a legal interest have the right to petition the court. The position of beneficiary is fungible and transferrable in Austria.

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