Death and inheritance in Norway

Kvinner trøster
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Here you can find information about reporting and registration of deaths, funerals, grants relating to funerals and deaths, inheritance, and other information that may be relevant if you have lost someone close to you in Norway, or if a Norwegian person or someone who lives in Norway dies abroad.

What happens when someone dies in Norway?

Here, you can read about what happens if someone close to you dies in Norway. 

Reporting and registering a death

When someone living in Norway dies a doctor must send the death certificate to the National Population Register at the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten). A death certificate is a doctor’s declaration of death. The doctor can send the certificate electronically or in paper form. If there is a suspicion of anything other than a natural cause of death, the death must be reported to the sheriff/police. 

If the deceased was a member of the Norwegian national insurance scheme, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) generally receives notification of the death from the National Population Register. If you have lost one of your close relatives, and are uncertain whether NAV has received the information, contact NAV to check.

If you live in another country, and a relative dies in Norway, the Norwegian authorities are responsible for reporting the death to the authorities in your country who, in turn, will notify you.

Once the district court has received a report of the death from the National Population Register, you as heir will receive a guidance letter with practical information. In the letter you will be asked to decide whether you want to settle the estate of the deceased. Read more about inheritance and inheritance settlement further down this page.

Funeral and funeral grant

After a death, many issues and tasks arise. Some of these must be handled and completed within a few days of, for example:

  • Which of the survivors has the right to arrange the funeral.
  • Which funeral director will arrange the funeral.
  • Whether the funeral is to involved the burial of a coffin or a cremation with burial of an urn or scattering of ashes.
  • The cemetery in which the deceased is be buried.
  • If there is to be a ceremony, the time, place and content of the ceremony must be decided.
  • Notice of death in a newspaper.

Normally, burial or cremation takes place within ten days of the death. For cremation, the ashes must be buried or scattered within six months of the death.

The funeral is arranged by the relative with the right to arrange the funeral (gravferdsrett). If  nobody arranges the funeral, the municipality in which the deceased lived at the time of death will arrange it. If the deceased did not live in Norway, it is the municipality in which the death occurred that arranges the funeral. The municipality may demand that funeral expenses be covered by the deceased’s estate.

NAV may award a funeral grant in some cases. The grant is needs-tested and, in order to apply for this, the deceased must have been a member of the Norwegian national insurance scheme. Special regulations apply when the death occurs outside Norway. There are also special regulations when the death is the result of an occupational injury. If you want to find out more about the regulations regarding a funeral grant, contact NAV.

If  the deceased was a member of the national insurance scheme, and the coffin must be transported a long distance, relatives may also have some of the transport costs covered.

When a Norwegian citizen/person living in Norway dies in another country

Here you can read about what happens if a Norwegian person or someone living in Norway dies abroad. 

Reporting and registering a death abroad

When a Norwegian citizen dies in another country, the Norwegian diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate) in the country in which the person died will send the death certificate to the Directorate of Taxes. The death will then be registered in the National Population Register. If the deceased was registered as living in Norway, the Directorate of Taxes sends the death certificate to the district court where the deceased was last registered.

If the deceased was a foreign citizen residing in Norway, the authorities in the country where the death occurs will not automatically send a notification to the Norwegian authorities. Survivors, next of kin, or others must therefore report the death to the National Population Register in Norway. You do this by sending in the original death certificate with an official stamp or legalisation by post to the Norwegian Tax Administration. They also accept certificates that have been verified by a Norwegian foreign mission.

It can often take longer to complete all the formalities when a person dies in a different country to the one in which they lived.

Expenses connected with a death abroad

Expenses in connection with a death abroad are either covered by the deceased’s insurance or paid by the estate or the relatives. Expenses may include storage, home transport of coffin or urn, and other costs. It may be a good idea to contact your insurance company, and possibly a funeral director for help in this process.

Inheritance and inheritance regulations in Norway

It is the Norwegian district courts that manage inheritance and division of estates in Norway. This means division of the inheritance left by the deceased. In Norway, there is no registration and overview of all assets and all debts after the deceased , as is the case with the estate inventory (bouppteckning) in Finland and Sweden.

When the District Court receives notification of a death from the National Population Register, the court contacts the beneficiaries.

Who are beneficiaries?

You are a beneficiary if the deceased has named you in their will, or if you are an inheritor according to the Norwegian Inheritance Act (Arveloven). If the deceased has not drawn up a will, it is the direct heirs (slektsarvingene) and any surviving spouse of the deceased who are beneficiaries. Direct heirs are divided into three groups (arverekker), also called inheritance classes.

The beneficiaries must decide how the estate will be divided, i.e. who will divide the deceased’s estate among the beneficiaries. Division of the estate is regulated in the Administration of Estates Act (Skifteloven). The district court can provide guidance on how to arrange the deceased’s estate (assets and debts). 

How is the deceased’s inheritance divided?

The inheritance is usually divided in a private division, which means that the beneficiaries agree amongst themselves on how property and assets will be divided. This is why it is important to determine who are the actual heirs of the deceased. If the beneficiaries are to proceed with a private division, the district court must issue a grant of probate (skifteattest). This certificate gives the beneficiaries the right to dispose of the deceased’s property.

In a private division, at least one beneficiary must assume liability for the deceased’s debts. Beneficiaries who want a grant of probate or other certificates must complete and sign a form. 

If the beneficiaries do not want to assume  liability for the deceased’s debts or to divide the deceased’s assets and property, the district court can, on request, carry out a public division. The district court then appoints an executor to administer the estate. Contact with the beneficiaries will generally be through the executor. When all the issues relating to the estate administration have been resolved (including sale of property, disputes, payment of the deceased’s debts, etc), the executor will submit the case to the district court, which concludes the public division with a decision on distribution (fordeling) to the beneficiaries.

Is there inheritance tax in Norway?

Since 2014, there has been no inheritance tax in Norway. However, you should normally report an inheritance to the Norwegian Tax Administration. 

Other information if you have lost a close relative

On the HelseNorge website, you can find information about how to tackle grief and grief reactions when you lose a close relative.

In some cases you may be entitled to financial assistance when someone close to you dies. 

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