In Norway before 1690, the division of the estate could be done privately after paying off the debts before at least two witnesses. These proceedings were usually recorded with the deeds in the court records. In 1685 the government put forth a law that both mandated probate court records to be kept and established better organization in the courts and their records.
In 1690, Norway began keeping probate records entirely separate from other court proceedings and land records. A copy was also made after this time and was to be kept in the probate register (skifteprotokol).
In 1701 the laws directed that all original documents and probate matters were to be registered within six weeks. Soon after this law, another was put into force that changed the period from six weeks to immediately, and all matters dealing with the probate were recorded in one book chronologically as they occurred, or with the probate registrations and business meetings kept separately. Because they were allowed to record the events separately, there are two different records for some places, the skifteprotokoller, which contained the registration of the original letter of probate and additional documents, and the skiftebehandlingsprotokoller, which included records from the business meetings.
The system underwent changes once again in the 1830s that continues to this day. This system produces registreringsprotokoller, which are the original letters of probate; the skiftebehandlings og skifteforhandlingsprotokoller, the proceedings from subsequent business meetings; skifteslutings or skifteundlodningsprotokoller which contain summaries of the estate divisions to heirs and creditors and the closing of the probate dealings; and skifteprotokoller, which was the final or summary registration made of the proceedings recorded shortly after the probate closed.
To find the actual records, it is important to know which jurisdiction the proceedings were recorded in. Remember that some cities had their own probate jurisdictions before 1850 when you are searching for the correct one. A list of these jurisdictions can be found in the publication entitled "Scandinavian Genealogical Research," published by Thomsen's Genealogical Center.
As mentioned before, the primary reason for keeping them was to record guardianship. Those under the age of 25 were considered minors and were put in the charge of the nearest male relative of the deceased. The name and relation of the guardian is usually recorded in the probate entry. Additional information that can usually be found in these records is the name of the deceased's wife, children, grandchildren, and possibly nieces and nephews. An entry may indicate prior marriages or any which were planned. It may also list the siblings of the deceased.
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2005.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.
Would you like to browse through our collection of GenWeekly articles written exclusively for Genealogy Today? Yes, take me there Would you like to keep up-to-date with the latest releases from Genealogy Today, along with news from a variety of other sources by receiving The Genealogy News (a FREE service) by email? Yes, sign me up Would you like to become a Genealogy Today member and be able to manage your research experience, post messages to forums, add comments to resources and much more? Yes, show me how Would you like to tap into our community of over 85,000 members by posting a query and get assistance breaking down your most difficult brickwalls? Yes, show me how Would you like to go shopping in a marketplace of over 700 items, including charts, scrapbooking materials, books and a variety of unique gifts and supplies? Yes, take me there