Death report and inheritance

Death report and inheritance
There are many matters to be settled when a member of your nearest family dies, and quite a lot of them may seem difficult. The district court will always be able to guide and instruct you in these matters.

How do you register a death?
When someone dies, the person’s next of kin should immediately contact an undertaker. In addition to the funeral itself there are many practical matters that need to be arranged, i.e. the death is to be registered at the district court where the deceased used to live.
Usually the undertaker will take care of this if you make an agreement about it. As spouse or next of kin, however, you may also register the death at the district court yourself. The court will give you further instructions, among other things about how you can administer the estate of the deceased.

Meeting at the court
It may be convenient to meet at the district court to discuss what need to be done with the deceased’s assets and capital, the estate. At the meeting you may be asked about the family of the deceased, the assets and properties, debts and her/his last will and testament. You should bring the deceased’s last will and testament with you, marital agreement and documentation about his/her property, debts and belongings.

The inheritors must decide upon how to administer the assets, i.e. who is to divide the personal property of the deceased among the inheritors. There are several types of administration of an estate, and a private division is the most usual one, i.e. the inheritors themselves agree upon who is to inherit what. Therefore it is important to determine who are the actual beneficiaries of the deceased.

Who are the beneficiaries?
You are a beneficiary if you inherit something in the deceased’s will, or if is decided in The Inheritance Act. If the deceased has not written a will, The Inheritance Act regulates who are the beneficiaries. The Inheritance Act has also regulations about lineal heirs’ (children and grand children) demands on inheritance. Cohabitants with children have limited rights according to The Inheritance Act. Cohabitants without children must use a testament if the want to secure each other. Registered partners are judicially equal to spouses. What is being said about spouses below, therefore also concerns registered partners. The district court will assist you in setting up a list of the deceased’s inheritors.

Are You an inheritor according to The Inheritance Act?
Children and grand-children
Children and grand-children of the deceased are called “first inheriting class” ("første arvegangsklasse") in The Inheritance Act. The main rule is that the estate goes the children of the deceased. If these children are not alive, the estate goes to their children, i.e. the deceased’s grand-children. If the deceased has no children or grand children, the estate goes further to his/her mother and father.

Mother, father, siblings, nieces and nephews
These are called the “second inheritance class” ("andre arvegangsklasse"). If his/her mother or father is not alive, the estate goes to their children (the deceased’s siblings).

If none of these are alive, their part of the estate goes further to their children (the deceased’s nieces and nephews). If a niece or a nephew is not alive but has his or her own children, the estate goes further to them.

Half-sisters and half-brothers are also in second inheritance class, but these will only inherit the parent they had in common with the deceased. Only in cases where the deceased has no relatives in the second inheritance class, the estate goes further to grand-parents, aunts and uncles.

Grand-parents, aunts, uncles and cousins
Grand-parents are described as the third inheritance class. If the grand-children are not alive, the estate goes further to their children, i.e. aunts and uncles of the deceased. If they are not alive, the estate goes to their children, i.e. nieces and nephews of the deceased.
The estate goes to the government (“staten”) if there are no relatives in this inheritance class or if the deceased has not made a will that tells who are the beneficiaries. The children of the deceased’s nieces and nephews are not inheritors according to The Inheritance Act.

Minimum claim for the spouse
As widow, widower or registered partner you are normally assured a minimum amount after your deceased spouse/registered partner, if there is capital left after the funeral. The spouse’s standard right to inheritance mandated by law is one quarter the part of the lineal heirs, and otherwise half, but this part may be reduced in the will that the spouse has been acquainted with before the death.

Even if the inheritance has been reduced in the will, the living spouse has nevertheless the right to a minimum amount. The size of the minimum inheritance is dependent on the existence of lineal heirs of the deceased, i.e. children and grand-children. If there are no lineal heirs, the minimum inheritance is six times the basic amount of the social security scheme. If there are lineal heirs, the minimum inheritance is four times the basic amount. The basic amount is adjusted by the Storting one or more times each year, in accordance with changes in the general income level. You will find information about the basic amount of the social security scheme on their web site, i.e. www.nav.no or by making an inquiry at your local social security office.