Introduction to the Swedish Estate Inventories
The Swedish Church Books are a gold mine for the Swedish genealogists providing a wealth of information and are usually the first source to use when researching one’s Swedish heritage. But there are many additional types of records that can help in researching one’s ancestor and gaining a better understanding of how one’s ancestor lived and one very wonderful resource is the bouppteckning or the estate inventory.
The Swedish Estate Inventories (bouppteckningar) provide genealogical information and help one gain a better understanding of one’s ancestor’s life. The estate inventory details the assets and debts of the deceased person’s estate.
Upon a person’s death, the minister of the parish recorded the death and burial of the deceased in the church books. The surviving spouse or heirs would request that an estate inventory be performed. On an assigned date, the heirs along with court appointed appraisers would meet at the deceased person’s home and conduct an inventory and assign a value to all items in the estate. Afterwards the appraisers would turn the estate inventory over to the court for probate. The court then determined the distribution of the estate and this was recorded in a document called the "arvskifte".
Legislation was enacted in 1734 that required that an estate inventory be performed upon one’s death. Some estate inventories were created prior to this date. An estate inventory was not always performed such as in the case of a very poor person with no assets. The probate was performed by the häradsrätt (district court) for rural parishes and rådhusrätt (city court) for city parishes. For persons belonging to the nobility, the probate was conducted by the Court of Appeals between 1737 and 1916. You can find all the preserved estate inventories from earliest times and up to June 30, 2001 at the respective regional Swedish archive. Estate inventories performed after July 1, 2001 can be found with Skattemyndigheten or the Swedish Tax Authority.
ArkivDigital’s online archive includes many of the preserved estate inventories (bouppteckningar) and more are being added. Today, you will find many of the estate inventories for the district (häradsrätt) and city (rådhusrätt) courts from earliest times up to 1900 for many parts of Sweden on ArkivDigital. Many of the estate inventories for the nobility up to 1916 are available online.
Search for availability of an estate inventory record on ArkivDigital
- Go to arkivdigital.net
- Click on Image database on left side of home page
- Click on the county where the deceased died
Look under the heading “Estate Inventories” and below you will see a summary of what is available for the count.
- Click on the specific parish to find out specifically what estate inventories are available for that parish
Search for estate inventory record on ArkivDigital Online
To search for the estate inventory for a deceased person, you will need to know the parish where the death is registered and the date of death.
- Search for the parish archive where the deceased died.
- Search for the estate inventory records
In ArkivDigital, estate records for a parish are included in the list of available records and the name of the "härad" is included in the "info box" for the parish.
- Click on "Estate Inventories"
- Look for "Estate Inventory registers"
- Estate inventory registers are name indexes of persons listed in the estate inventories. The names are organized in alphabetical order. Search for the deceased person. Next to the deceased’s name you will find the volume and page number where you can find the estate inventory
- Go to the estate inventory volume and then to the page number and you will find the estate inventory for the deceased person.
- If there is no estate inventory register, you will need to browse the estate inventory book page by page. Usually the estate inventory was performed within three or four months after the death but in some cases it may have occurred even a year later. Look for the estate inventory that includes the death year for the deceased person and then search the estate inventories beginning at the date of death and go forward until you find the one for the deceased person.
Preamble or Ingress
Within the preamble or the introductory section before the inventory list, you will usually find the following information:
- Date the inventory was performed
- Name of the deceased
- Date of death of the deceased
- Place of death of the deceased
- Names of heirs and relationship of heirs to deceased
- Residence of heirs
- Often you will find spouse names for married daughters of deceased
- Name of guardian for minors
- Name of appraiser
Common Words in Preamble
Secure; often used to protect rights of minor
Left behind; survived by
Of legal age
The record; minutes
The inventory includes all the assets and debts with an assigned value of the deceased’s estate. The inventory is often divided into categories such as cash, real estate, silver, copper, books, linen, bed clothing, everyday clothing, furniture, animals, tools and miscellaneous items. At the end of the inventory list, you will often see any outstanding debts and burial expenses. The total estate value is presented at the end of the inventory.
Common words in Inventory
Most of the words below are for categories listed in the inventory.
|Fastighet||Property or Real Estate|
|Fordringar||Amounts Owed to the Deceased|
|Skulder||Debts - Amounts Owed by Deceased|
|Transport||To carry forward, as an addition, from one page to the next|
Estate Inventory Preamble Example
Östra Göinge häradsrätt FIIa:113 (1899-1899) Image 190 / page 16 (AID: v159000.b190.s16, NAD: SE/LLA/10083)
År 1898 den 22 December förrättades Bouppteckning efter Wäktaren Carl Gustafsson i Wästerslöf som därstädes aflidit den 11th sistlidne September och efterlämnat hustrun Elna Persdotter, samt som ensam arvinge med henne född dottern Elna och gift med Nils Johnsson i Monson, Nort Amerika. För att bevaka hennes rätt var tillstädes god man Arrendator Anders Johnsson i Wästerlöf enligt förordnande af protokollet hållet infor Domaren i Östra Goiinge härad den 21 December 1898. Som värderingsmän varo tillstädes Arrendator Sven Danielsson och Sven Eriksson in Ålsåkra.
On December 22, 1898, the estate inventory was performed for Watchman Carl Gustafsson who lived in Wästerslöf. He died there on September 11 and is survived by his wife, Elna Persdotter, along with their only daughter, Elna, who is married to Nils Johnsson and they are living in Monson, North America. Tenant farmer, Anders Johnsson in Wästerslöf has been given the responsibility to protect the daughter rights of inheritance according to the minutes in the Court in Östra Goiinge on December 21, 1898. The appraisers are tenant farmers, Sven Danielsson and Sven Eriksson in Ålsåkra.