There are many factors that help to determine what happens with inheritance. Factors that play into the division of inheritance include, for example, if the deceased has a surviving spouse or family, and if they have made a will or testament. Tingrettens (the District Court's) representative can provide further details.
An undivided estate
In an undivided estate, the surviving spouse acquires ownership of all the couple’s assets. There is no need to obtain consent from common children, or other heirs, unless otherwise stated in a will or testament.
Before you apply for an undivided estate, you should carefully consider whether this is the best arrangement for the surviving spouse. How beneficial this is will depend on a variety of factors, including the value of assets and amount of debt, the heirs, insurance, and the surviving spouse's age and income.
When we report the death, we will ensure that your family gets the necessary form.
Private or public division?
Usually the estate is divided privately. This can occur if at least one legal heir assumes responsibility for the deceased's obligations. Private division is possible even if some or all the heirs are minors, but their guardian must consent to private division.
If the surviving spouse is not the sole beneficiary, or is not appropriate to have an undivided estate, then the heirs should divide the estate.
By private division, the heirs must inherit assets and debt, as declared in a separate form.
If private division is not possible, then the estate is divided by public administration - ie Tingretten (the District Court).
State inheritance law
Without a will or testament, or family heirs (cousins are the most distant relatives who inherit by law), the state is the sole beneficiary. More distant relatives, friends, or organizations who were close to the deceased can apply to Forbruker- og administrasjonsdepartementet (Administration and Consumer Affairs) to waive public inheritance and name themselves as beneficiaries, if there are special reasons for doing so.
Will or testament
If the deceased has written will or testament, and it is created in valid forms, it will provide guidance on who has the right to inherit. The bereaved will usually find the will of the deceased in their residence, in a safety deposit box, or from a lawyer or Tingretten (the District Court). If only a copy exists, it should be brought to Tingretten (the District Court) court as soon as possible.
Inheritance of debt
Be aware that both undivided and private division of an estate assumes that the heirs also assume the deceased's debt. One should therefore first make sure that the deceased's assets exceed debt. The deceased's tax return can normally be used to help with this assessment. If in doubt, one should let Skifteretten (the Court for division of assets) initiate a public division and issue claims. If it turns out that the estate is solvent, it is possible to later switch to a private division of the estate.
Necessary attestations and permits
When a death occurs, the relatives or lawyer must notify a number of agencies. These include matters affecting owned real estate, rented real estate, banking, postal, lending institutions, telephone, energy and membership in different associations. Some of these bodies may ask for a probate or death certificate. An official certificate of how the estate will be divided is issued by Tingretten (the District Court).
Upon death, previous authorizations and access for bank accounts and similar will lapse.
A probate certificate is valid as identification in a variety of situations, including change in stocks and real estate, title transfer at the sorenskriver (district judge) or byfogd (magistrate), and giving the right to dispose of safety deposit boxes or bank accounts.
Safety deposit boxes
If it is necessary to open a safety deposit box before probate is granted, it can be arranged with Tingretten (the District Court) who will issue a temporary authorization. This authorization is given together with a representative of the bank, for example to retrieve any will or testament that would then immediately be delivered to the court.
Guardian / Trustee
If there are heirs who are minors, a guardian or trustee must be appointed. The proposed guardian must be approved by Overformynderiet (the Public Guardian). In an undivided estate, the trustee must be appointed before an undivided certificate can be issued. The trustee should not be a relative of the surviving spouse.
Further information regarding the law on inheritance
(Hviding undertaker is not responsible for any inaccuracies in this source).