If a person dies without leaving a will or if the will is not detailed enough, the Inheritance Act determines how the inheritance will be divided. Nevertheless, there are some statutory rules concerning inheritance that you must comply with if you are a spouse, cohabitant or child. You can find examples of how to calculate inheritances here.
Heirs are divided into three classes: first, second and third classes of heirs.
First class of heirs
Relatives in the first class of heirs are relatives that descend in a direct line from the same person, such as children, grandchildren and so on.
If the deceased had no surviving direct descendants at the time of their death, the inheritance goes to the next class of heirs.
Second class of heirs
Relatives in the second class of heirs only inherit if the deceased had no children, grandchildren or other relatives who are direct descendants.
The second class of heirs are relatives in the ascending line, i.e. the mother and father.
If the mother and/or father are dead, the inheritance goes to the other children of the deceased’s parents, i.e. their siblings. If a brother or sister is dead, this person’s children share the deceased sibling’s share.
The Inheritance Act does not set any limits for how far down the inheritance can go.
Half-siblings only inherit through the parent of the deceased that the heir and deceased had in common. The size of the inheritance will thus depend on how many siblings there are on each side.
If the deceased had no relatives in the second class of heirs, the inheritance goes to the next class.
Third class of heirs
Relatives in the third class of heirs are grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The inheritance does not go to the children of cousins. Nor does the inheritance go further to the parents of the grandparents.
If there are no relatives in the third class of heirs, the family has no right to inherit. This applies even if the deceased did not leave a will.
As a rule, anyone aged 18 or older can write a will and determine how their inheritance should be divided.
Can you do something about statutory rights to inherit in a will?
In a will you can strengthen or reduce the rights of a spouse and children.
You cannot limit your spouse’s minimum inheritance by writing a will. If you spouse is not aware of the reductions in your will, the reductions are invalid.
If you had shared children or you had children from a previous relationship, your ability to reduce their rights in a will are limited. Together, children must inherit at least 2/3 (mandatory share of inheritance).
If you have children and children from a previous relationship, the spouse’s right to inherit can increase from a statutory 1/4 to 1/3.
You can limit the inheritance to each individual in a will. You can choose to set the mandatory share of inheritance for one or more of the children to 15 x the National Insurance basic amount (G). This may mean that together the children will inherit less than 2/3 of the assets. If G = NOK 110 000, each of the children will inherit at least NOK 1 650 000. For those with two children, this means that they will inherit a total of NOK 3 300 000. This applies even if the total net worth of the estate is NOK 6 000 000. If they had inherited 2/3, they would have received NOK 4 000 000.