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WHO INHERITS?

Once the estate inventory is completed and the estate’s bills have been paid, it is time to divide the estate. The division must be agreed on by the parties to the estate, documented and signed by all parties.

The parties to the estate inherit

If the deceased has left assets, the parties to the estate will inherit these. In Sweden, debts are not inherited. Who inherits depends on whether or not the deceased was married or had children. There may be a prenuptial agreement and/or a will stating that specific things should go to a specific person or organisation. Unless a will has been made, cohabitees do not inherit from one another.

Inheritance and distribution of the estate at skatteverket.se (in Swedish) External link.

Before anything else, the estate must pay off its debts

The estate must pay for funeral expenses, transport of the body and any bills addressed to the deceased personally before the estate can be divided. If the debts exceed the estate’s assets, there is no need to pay the remaining debt.

Prepare a distribution of estate document

The division is called the distribution of the estate and is documented in a distribution of estate document. This document shows that the parties are agreed on who is to inherit what. All heirs shall sign the distribution of estate document, which then becomes a legally binding agreement. Retain the distribution of estate document. This does not need to be sent to anyone. If you are the sole party to the estate, the estate’s assets are transferred to you once the estate inventory is registered by the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket).

Estates and distribution of the estate at konsumenternas.se (in Swedish) External link.

Inheritance at skatteverket.se (in Swedish) External link.

Division of joint assets

If you and the deceased had joint assets and there are several heirs, you will need to make a division of property. You do this after the estate inventory has been registered and the estate’s debts and expenses have been paid.

You can learn more about the division of property on the Swedish Tax Agency’s (Skatteverket) website.

Property division at skatteverket.se (in Swedish) External link.

Spouses and children are the primary heirs

  • If you were married to the deceased and did not have any children, you are the primary heir.
  • If you were married with children, you inherit before the child/children, who in most cases must wait until the death of their other parent before inheriting.
  • If the deceased had children with somebody else, unless there is a will that states otherwise, they normally have the right to take out their inheritance immediately. Under Swedish law, these children of the deceased person are called särkullbarn.

Common law spouse with or without children

  1. If you were not married to the deceased, then their children are the primary heirs.
  2. In order for cohabiting partners to inherit, there must be a will.
  3. If the deceased had children with somebody else, unless there is a will that states otherwise, they normally have the right to take out their inheritance immediately.

Minors who inherit

A child under the age of 18 who inherits will automatically have a chief guardian appointed for them by the County Administrative Board. In conjunction with administering the estate inventory, the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) will notify the County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen) that a minor has received an inheritance. The minor will require the approval of both the chief guardian and their legal guardian before they can withdraw money from their account and dispose of their inheritance.

If you are unable to agree

If the parties to the estate are unable to agree on how the estate should be administered or the inheritance distributed, the district court may appoint an independent estate administrator, probate officer or estate distribution executor. You can learn more about applying for independent assistance at domstol.se.

Estate administration and distribution of the estate at domstol.se (in Swedish) External link.

Property division at domstol.se (in Swedish) External link.

If there are no heirs or will

If someone dies without leaving any heirs or will, the estate goes to the Swedish Inheritance Fund.

Ask others to help you

Do not hesitate to ask for help with what feels difficult and to receive help if you are offered.

Last updated: 2021-06-11