Back to search

FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

Succession Law: Challenges and Potential regarding regulating the Transfer of Property on Death in changing Society

Awarded: NOK 2.9 mill.

Project Number:


Application Type:

Project Period:

2012 - 2020


Partner countries:

The project aimed inter alia to illuminate features of societal development that might or ought to have consequences for succession law, typically in terms of how selected rules ought to be. In this report not only rules founded on new legislation/statute law are considered as new rules, but also how e.g. courts of law should interpret existing (statutory) rules and apply them in actual cases and such. This included the mapping of the content of contemporary law and different contexts such as historical development and background, comparations with the contemporary law of other jurisdictions etc. A seminar was held in Bergen 6. and 7. December 2012 with papers from both Nordic project partners and other specially invited participants. The adapted papers are collected in the anthology "Samfunnsutvikling og arverettslige utfordringer", published by Cappelen Damm Akademisk in 2013. The seminar was held partially - and indeed also contributed to - establish and strengthen network relations between succession law researchers in the Nordic countries and project participants. Another objective was to map the content of selected rules and legal development in other Nordic countries, which are the jurisdictions that are most obvious jurisdictions to compare to Norwegian succession law. On 14. February 2014 the project group held a seminar in Bergen. The leader and a member of the expert committee for proposing a new act on succession (Arvelovutvalget) presented and discussed the committee?s proposal. The seminar also had a prepared contribution from one of the Nordic project partners. The same year, 1. September, the project group arranged the all-day seminar/workshop "Some family and succession law challenges in different legal cultures" with contributions from inter alia project participants and partners and invited experts from Germany and Scotland. The Ph.D.-student has presented her project during research stays in Germany, Sweden and Denmark. The senior researcher has presented her project under multidiscipline courses, seminars and conferences. During the project period, minor workshops have been arranged by the project group or the research group for family, children and succession law and the law of persons at the Faculty of law, University of Bergen with irregular intervals. Participants beside project group members have mainly been professors and other researchers at the faculty. In addition to the contributions in "Samfunnsutvikling og arverettslige utfordringer", the published texts/data clarify, or discuss, inter alia features of current law regarding inheritance rights for unmarried cohabitant and how it should be regulated in the future; that the development in market pricing of immovables could hardly be predicted when the current law of marriage was prepared, and how the rules on unequal division of spouses' property following a divorce or the death of a spouse should be interpreted and applied in view of this insight; features of current law regarding whether transfer of the joint dwellings between spouses or unmarried cohabitants should be considered as dispositions inter vivos or mortis causa, differences in the Nordic countries, and suggestions on what direction legislation should take to reduce the significance of the problem; that parts of the proposals for a new inheritance act (NOU 2014: 1) might not be the best rules for a future inheritance legislation, and should be reconsidered; Different legal «classes» of adult relationships (marriage, registrered partnerships, cohabitation) with an emphasis on registrered partnerships and the development towards the right to contract a marriage for same sex couples, and the development for unmarried couples, including inheritance rights; Research topics within family and inheritance law in Norway; Rules of right of self-determination, legal capacity and (legal) aid/support for vulnerable adults (i.e. with mental diseases), which are also of significance for their right and capacity to make wills; The development of rules for the family formats marriage, registered partnership and cohabitation for different and same sex-couples over the past 50 years, and the content thereof, including inheritance law; The historic development behind the existing rules regarding inheritance and access to undivided estate for spouses and cohabitants; for spouses since medieval times. In periods surviving spouses with and without joint children have been treated differently by the law, a discrimination that eventually have been reduced or removed. A possible similar development regarding the legal position of surviving cohabitants is pointed out; The legal, social and cultural context underpinning the legal developments of rules for same sex-couples, and the content thereof, including inheritance law; The Ministry's proposal of new inheritance rules in the draft bill proposal of a new inheritance and distribution of deceased's estate act.


Contemporary succession law is facing challenges that arise as societal development partly connected with the increased diversification of value-orientation in the population, partly with the increase in cross-border relations, meets a field of law whose basic principles were formed in a different era. A few keywords are changes in family constellations and patterns of life together, the loosening of ties of kinship, higher average life expectancy, individualization, migration and increased mobility, cult urally and/or religiously based diversifications, growing private and public wealth and the welfare state's role in providing services for some tasks that were originally attended to by the family. This project will provide knowledge of relevant factors t o be taken into consideration for the evaluation of the legal status quo on a general basis. Furthermore, it will study how some singular problems, in particular connected to the distinction on transferring property with effects in one's lifetime and with effects after death, are met in other jurisdictions. Moreover, it will study the legal situation when both Norwegian and Muslim succession law appears to be applicable due to rules of private international law, and how such cases are handled by the Musli m communities of Norway. This project is basically legal research, notwithstanding that there is no general recognized method in todays paradigm of legal science. As quite common in legal research, this project will make use of multidisciplinary approach es to study the aforementioned processes, to consider to what extent such changes should initiate amendments of the law, and to evaluate to what extent contemporary law or proposals for amendments meet these demands.

Publications from Cristin

No publications found

No publications found

Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam