Death and inheritance in Norway

Dødsfall og arv i Norge
Information for people who lose a relative in Norway.

Report a death

When someone living in Norway dies, the next-of-kin must ensure that the death certificate (dødsattesten/dødsmelding) is submitted to either the district court, enforcement office or the police/sheriff in the municipality in which the deceased lived. Often, funeral homes can help to report the death. 

If the cause of death is natural, it is generally the attending doctor who completes a death certificate that the relatives can submit to report the death. A funeral home can help relatives with this. The funeral home also helps with other practical matters that must be arranged when a person dies. The following information about the deceased must be given when reporting a death to the police and the district court:

  • Given name and surname
  • Date of birth and national identity number
  • Home address
  • Place of death
  • Date of death
  • Religion
  • Citizenship
  • Civil status
  • Year of marriage
  • Beneficiaries: Spouse or partner’s date of birth, national identity number and address. Children’s, lineal heirs’ date of birth, national identity number and address. Any other beneficiaries in relation to family tree and beneficiaries in the will.
  • In addition, the following should be registered as far as possible: Any requests regarding burial or cremation, and where. Profession. Type of division of estate (Private Division, Undivided Possession of an Estate, Public Division). Will or premarital settlement.

The district court/sheriff then informs the National Registry and the social insurance authorities about the death.

If anything other than a natural cause of death is suspected, it is the police that send the notification of death to the district court. This is not done until after the autopsy of the deceased. 

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.

    Notification when a Norwegian citizen/person living in Norway dies in another country

    When a Norwegian citizen dies in another country, and it is assumed that the relatives have not been informed, the Norwegian diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate) will inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Utenriksdepartementet) of the death as soon as possible. This is also done if the deceased is a foreign citizen, but is registered in the National Registry as living in Norway.

    As far as possible, there should be written documentation from the local authorities in the applicable country that confirms the identity of the deceased. This will normally be a death certificate, but if the relatives have not been informed it can be unreasonable to wait until such a certificate has been produced. In such cases, a report from a hospital, the police or attending doctor will be sufficient, providing there is not the slightest doubt about the identity of the deceased. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs the National Criminal Investigation Service, NCIS (Kripos), which in turn informs the local police district, which notifies the relatives, sometimes in collaboration with a priest. 

    Funeral and funeral grant

    Normally, burial or cremation takes place no later than ten days after 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 arranges 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 estate.

    Expenses in connection with a death abroad are either covered by the deceased’s insurance, if applicable, or paid by the estate or the relatives. Expenses may include storage, home transport of coffin or urn, and other costs. On the basis of a death certificate issued by local authorities abroad, the Norwegian diplomatic mission will send a formal notification of death to the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten, Folkeregisteret) for Norwegian citizens and for foreign citizens registered in the National Registry in Norway. It often takes longer than relatives expect for all the formalities to be completed when a person dies in a different country to the one in which they lived.

    The Norwegian national insurance authority, NAV, may award a funeral grant in some situations. This 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 necessary, contact NAV to find out more about the regulations.

    Inheritance and housing

    Heirs must contact the district court in cases where the court administers the division of the estate (skifte av dødsbo). This means division of the estate left by the deceased. In Oslo it is the Oslo County Court (byfogdembete) that administers the division of the estate. In the rest of the country, it is the local district courts that do this.

    In Norway, there is no estate inventory.

    Who are beneficiaries?

    You are a beneficiary if the deceased has named you in their will, or if you are an inheritor as stipulated in 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 proved guidance on how to arrange the estate (assets and debts) after the death. 

    How is the deceased’s estate divided?

    The most common way is a private division, which means that the beneficiaries agree 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 (bobestyrer) to administer the estate according to the law. 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.

    Inheritance tax

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

    Other information for relatives

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