Frequently Asked Questions

Below you can find answers to questions you may have about death, inheritance and administration of estates. Please keep in mind that these are simple explanations, designed to help you get started when dealing with these issues.

(Questions and answers prepared by Oslo County Court)

Question 1: What is the first thing I must do following a death?

Question 2: Do I have to take responsibility for the funeral?

Question 3: Will the Court notify the relatives about the death and time of the funeral?

Question 4: Should the funeral bill be sent to the Court?

Question 5: What happens when the death is reported to the Court?

Question 6: What deadlines do I have to observe?

Question 7: What is private probate?

Question 8: What is a certificate of probate?

Question 9: What do I need to do to obtain a certificate of probate?

Question 10: When do I need a certificate of probate?

Question 11: How long does it take to obtain a certificate of probate?

Question 12: I don't know whether the deceased left sufficient funds to cover funeral expenses. What do I do?

Question 13: How can I obtain an overview of the deceased's assets and debt?

Question 14: What do I do when the estate's funds are presumed to yield a minimal amount for distribution once funeral expenses have been covered?

Question 15: I need a certificate of probate for use abroad. Are there any special considerations I should keep in mind?

Question 16: Can I request a certificate of probate in English?

Question 17: Can I request a copy of an issued certificate of probate via e-mail?

Question 18: Will the Court accept forms from the heirs submitted via e-mail?

Question 19: Who can learn the names of the deceased's heirs?

Question 20: Does the Court have an overview of all heirs?

Question 21: What is public probate?

Question 22: Can a request for public probate be submitted to the Court via e-mail?

Question 23: Can I obtain information about who in your office is in possession of wills?

Question 24: Can I request a copy of a will by sending an e-mail?

Question 25: Who can obtain a copy of a will?

Question 26: What is the cost of depositing a will and must I submit it in person?

Question 27: I have possessions that belonged to the deceased - what do I do with them?

Question 28: When can I enter the deceased's residence, clean it out and distribute the possessions?

Question 29: What happens if someone in my family was both living abroad and died there?

Answers

Question 1: What is the first thing I must do following a death?

Answer: When someone dies, the death must be reported to the Court. This is usually done by a funeral home, which reports the death on behalf of the bereaved. The funeral home can also help you with the practical issues surrounding the death.

If you want to report the death in person, you must obtain the medical certificate from the physician at the site of the death. The medical certificate must be submitted to the Court in a closed envelope. You can report to our reception on the 5th floor of Oslo Courthouse.

Question 2: Do I have to take responsibility for the funeral?

Answer: Following the death, you must decide whether you want to be responsible for the funeral. The funeral must take place within 10 days after the death.

Question 3: Will the Court notify the relatives about the death and time of the funeral?

Answer: No. It is not the Court's responsibility to inform the bereaved of this.

Question 4: Should the funeral bill be sent to the Court?

Answer: No. If the deceased left bank deposits, you can ask the bank to pay the invoice before you have received a certificate of probate. Remember that the funeral bill must be paid before other debt.

Question 5: What happens when the death is reported to the Court?

Answer: Immediately after we register the death, we will send you an information letter in which we communicate the name and telephone number of your case administrator. If we are not contacted within 60 days after the death, we will send you a reminder.

Question 6: What deadlines do I have to observe?

Answer: Within 60 days after the death, you should have decided whether the estate will be handed over for private administration. The Court can give you a longer deadline if need be. If we are not contacted within 60 days after the death, we will send you a reminder.

Question 7: What is private probate?

Answer: Under private probate, one or more of the heirs will assume responsibility for the deceased's debt. This means that the heir(s) is/are responsible for all debt left by the deceased. If you have received a certificate of probate for private probate pursuant to Section 78 of the Probate Act, someone has assumed full joint and several responsibility for the deceased's debt. This means that if the deceased's debt exceeds his/her assets, those who have assumed responsibility for the debt must cover the deficit themselves.

Question 8: What is a certificate of probate?

Answer: A certificate of probate is a document that states the heirs of the estate. The certificate of probate gives you the right to administer the estate.

Question 9: What do I need to do to obtain a certificate of probate?

Answer: You must complete and sign the form 'Declaration of private administration of estate' (In Norwegian only). A signature on the form entails that you assume responsibility for the debt. You can find the form here.

If there are multiple heirs, they must all sign the form in order for a certificate of probate to be issued as quickly as possible. In instances where not all heirs sign, a certificate of probate cannot be issued until 60 days after the date of death. It is then sufficient for one of the heirs to have assumed responsibility for the debt.

Question 10: When do I need a certificate of probate?

Answer: You need a certificate of probate to identify yourself as a rightful heir, and in order to arrange the practical matters surrounding settlement of the estate. If there are multiple heirs, the one handling the settlement of the estate must remember to obtain an authorisation from the other heirs that have assumed responsibility for the debt. See authorisation form (In Norwegian only).

A certificate of probate also gives you access to the assets left by the deceased, for example when you are to administer or terminate the deceased's bank account.

If the deceased left real property, you need the certificate of probate in order to initiate a sale or transfer the deed. An estate agent can neither sell nor register the transfer of the deed for the property until there is a certificate of probate.

Question 11: How long does it take to obtain a certificate of probate?

Answer: Once we have received a completed and signed 'Declaration of private probate of estate' form (In Norwegian only), it usually takes 1-2 weeks from when the form is received by the Court, until you receive a certificate of probate. You can find the form here.

Question 12: I don't know whether the deceased left sufficient funds to cover funeral expenses. What do I do?

Answer: If you are unsure whether the deceased left sufficient funds to cover funeral expenses, the Court can issue a warrant of attorney for the assets so that you can gain access to the estate. The precondition for issuing such a warrant is that the death has been registered.

Question 13: How can I obtain an overview of the deceased's assets and debt?

Answer: The Court can issue a warrant of attorney for the assets so that you can gain access to the deceased's assets and debt.

If you are in doubt as to whether the deceased left more debt than assets, you should not automatically sign the form assuming responsibility for the debt. You will then be responsible for all debt left by the deceased. Contact the Court if you need information about the other forms of probate or notice to creditors.

Question 14: What do I do when the estate's funds are presumed to yield a minimal amount for distribution once funeral expenses have been covered?

Answer: If you have assumed responsibility for funeral expenses, you can obtain a certificate pursuant to Section 80 of the Probate Act. See form here (In Norwegian only). In order to obtain such a certificate, it is presumed that the deceased did not leave gross assets exceeding 1 G (basic amount of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme), once the funeral expenses have been covered. As of 1 May 2018, the basic amount (G) is NOK 96 883. The basic amount is adjusted each year, with effect from 1 May.

If there are assets left once the funeral expenses are paid, you are free to choose which claims to pay. When a creditor contacts the Court, the creditor will be given the name and address of the person issued the certificate. You will have to account for the assets in the estate vis-à-vis potential creditors. This means that you have a limited responsibility for the debt at all times.

Question 15: I need a certificate of probate for use abroad. Are there any special considerations I should keep in mind?

Answer: The certificate of probate can be used abroad if the deceased left assets there. In order to use the Norwegian certificate of probate abroad, it must be translated by a government authorised translator and then be notarised. Further legalisation will be handled by the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, depending on where the certificate of probate is to be used.

Question 16: Can I request a certificate of probate in English?

Answer: We do not issue certificates of probate in English. You will be responsible for having the certificate translated by a government authorised translator. When this is done, we, as notary public, can notarise the document. Further legalisation will be handled by the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, depending on where the certificate of probate is to be used.

Question 17: Can I request a copy of an issued certificate of probate via e-mail?

Yes, you can, if you are an heir. The inquiry must state your relationship to the deceased, and why you need the certificate of probate. Please send the inquiry to: oslo.byfogdembete@domstol.no

Question 18: Will the Court accept forms from the heirs submitted via e-mail?

Answer: No. Forms and wills must be submitted to the Court in originals. We do not approve documents submitted via e-mail.

Question 19: Who can learn the names of the deceased's heirs?

Answer: Anyone can learn the name and address of the recipient of the certificate of probate if the case is concluded and the Court has issued a certificate of probate to the heirs. Nevertheless, please note that the Court will never supply a copy of the certificate of probate unless a legal interest can be proven.

Question 20: Does the Court have an overview of all heirs?

Answer: No. As a point of departure, the heirs are responsible for informing the Court about who the heirs are. If the relatives cannot find all the heirs, one should consider public administration of the estate.

Question 21: What is public probate?

Answer: Public probate is a form of probate where the Court is responsible for administering the estate. The Court will appoint a trustee to handle administration of the estate. The trustee will prepare a proposal for allocation (distribution) of the inheritance to the heirs. The heirs have been given a deadline to submit comments concerning the trustee's proposal, in advance. The Court must approve the final distribution.

Question 22: Can a petition for public probate be submitted to the Court via e-mail?

Answer: No, we must receive the original petition for public probate.

Question 23: Can I obtain information about who in your office is in possession of wills?

Answer: No, you cannot. As long as the testator is alive, we do not disclose who has deposited wills. If you are appointed as temporary guardian, this must be specifically confirmed by the County Governor (Public Guardian's Office) before we can issue a copy of the will.

Question 24: Can I request a copy of a will by sending an e-mail?

Answer: No. In order to obtain a copy of a will, you must either visit the Court in person or send us a letter. You will have to explain your relationship to the deceased and why you are demanding access to the will.

Question 25: Who can obtain a copy of a will?

Answer: You can be issued a copy of the will if the testator is dead and you are their statutory heir, or if you are a beneficiary in the will.

Question 26: What is the cost of depositing a will and must I submit it in person?

Answer: As of 1 January 2019, the fee for depositing a will with the Court is NOK 920. You will be invoiced in arrears. Please note that the fee is linked to the individual document. This means that a supplemental will, amendments to and replacement of a will will incur a new fee of NOK 920.

You can either submit the will in person or send it via mail. You will receive a receipt for the deposit a few days later.

If you want someone else to submit your will to Oslo County Court, you must give them an authorisation as well as a copy of your ID. The authorisation holder must also show proof of identity. The authorisation will be filed along with the will.

Question 27: I have possessions that belonged to the deceased - what do I do with them?

Answer: If you are holding assets or keys to a residence for the deceased, you must retain these until the right person/heir can show proof of identity, either with a certificate of probate or an authorisation issued by the Court.

Question 28: When can I enter the deceased's residence, clean it out and distribute the possessions?

Answer: You shouldn't do this until you have received the certificate of probate because it may result in subsequent disagreement between the heirs. If you have to enter the residence for other reasons, you should include witnesses.

If an authorisation is issued to have keys handed over, which for example may be located at a hospital or police station, the authorisation will be issued to all known statutory heirs.

Question 29: What happens if the deceased was both living abroad and died there?

Answer: In Norway, the home address determines where the estate will be administered. This means where the deceased was living when he/she died, where their life interest and spouse were located, etc. This is independent of nationality.

You will therefore need to contact the correct probate authority where the deceased was living when he/she died in order to handle the administration of the estate. Experience has shown that it may be necessary to seek legal assistance in order to proceed with the administration of the estate.