Report on the Law of Succession

29 May 2009

The Scottish Law Commission has recently published its anticipated Report on the Law of Succession. The Report puts forward recommendations which would make significant changes to the way the law currently operates, particularly in cases where a person dies without having made a Will. Professor Joseph Thomson, the lead Commissioner, said:

“The aim is to simplify the law radically by providing rules which are easily understood and which at the same time reflect the nature of family structures in contemporary Scotland”.

Recommendations include:

  • On intestate estates (i.e. no Will) - a deceased’s surviving spouse or civil partner would inherit the whole estate up to a certain value. The Scottish Law Commission noted a sum of £300,000 but emphasised that the actual sum would be set by the Scottish Parliament. The rest of the estate would be shared equally between the deceased’s children.
  • On testate estates (i.e. a Will exists) – when the deceased’s spouse or civil partner is not provided for in the Will, and is effectively disinherited, a spouse or civil partner would be entitled to a legal share equivalent to a quarter of what they would have inherited if the deceased had died intestate.
  • Non-dependent adult children of the deceased would no longer have the right to claim Legal Rights. This is a controversial recommendation that would abolish the long held protection afforded to children of the deceased from being disinherited. The Scottish Law Commission recommends that dependent children of the deceased may be entitled to a capital sum dependent on their maintenance needs.
  • Divorce, dissolution or annulment of a marriage or civil partnership would revoke any provision in a Will relating to the former spouse or civil partner, unless otherwise specified in the Will.
  • Cohabitants of the deceased would be entitled to a percentage of the estate, equivalent to that which a surviving spouse or civil partner would have received. However, in determining the percentage the circumstances of the relationship would be taken into account, such as the length and quality of the relationship.

If you want to read more then download:-

Scottish Law Commission: Report on the Law of Succession - PDF (1348KB)

We will keep you up-to-date with developments should any of the proposed recommendations become law.

Making a Will is an important legal act which determines how your estate will administered after your death. Should you wish to discuss the making of a Will, please contact Kathleen on 0141 229 0880 or send Kathleen an e-mail.