Do you need a testament in Sweden?

2021-07-19 i Testamente
May I need a testament in order to provide for my friends and how do I go about it? I'm married have 2 children and are considered relocating to Sweden?Bruno

Hi, and thank you for posing your question to us at Lawline!

The main rule in the legal aspects of inheritance is that the country where the departed person was last located shall be the applicable law that is used on the inheritance as a whole. So, if you were to pass living in Sweden, swedish law will apply if you do not have a testament that appoints another countrys law.

According to swedish law, a person that dies becomes a legal person called "dödsbo". When a spouse dies, the merriage is dissolved and a partition of joint property is concluded. If you for instance have a prenuptual agreement, this could change the way that the assets are divided. If there are no such restrictions, both spouses list their assets and debts and the remainder of the assets (or debts if one spouse should have more debts than incomes/assets) are divided equally between the spouses. There are also some exceptional rules for the remaining spouse to use, for example, the right to keep more of their marrital assets in the partition of joint property.

The next rule is that the remaining spouse inherits everything. This might sound like the forementioned step is unnecessary but the inherited part that comes from the deceased spouse cannot be subject to gifts or testament by the remaining spouse. It is ment to be kept, at least in some part, to the spouses children which will inherite assets from both parents when the latter spouse also passes. This often comes into question if the remaining spouse decides to have more children after the first spouse dies. Those children will of course not partake in the inheritance from the firstly departed spouse, which is the whole reason for this song and dance, so to speak.. The remaining spouse can spend the money freely but is not allowed to keep it for someone else after they themselves have passed through a testament or gift.

This is what happens according to swedish law if there is no testament.

A testament is of course always a good idea, especially if there could arise questions about which law to apply or which assets are to be considered in the partition of joint property, especially if the spouses are not that familiar with the law in their new land. There are some demands to make a testament legal in swedish law. The testament must be written and has to be witnessed when it is signed by two witnesess that are not mentioned in the testament. They also cannot be spouses or partners, children, parents, siblings or in-laws. The witnesses must be aware of what they are signing, cannot be under the age of 15 and they must be of sound mind.

The testament is not registered anywhere and with that, and the demands for the testament to be legally valid in mind, many take help in writing (and sometimes storing) their testaments.

I hope you got some help on your way to making a decision about your family´s legal situation when you pass and good luck!

AnnaSara Jarius
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