HM Insights

Why a Will is the best way for cohabitants in Scotland to ensure succession rights

It's a common misconception that cohabiting couples have similar rights to married couples on death. Although there are some rights in place for a cohabitant in Scotland, their succession rights are in fact very limited.

The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 introduced rights for unmarried couples to make certain claims for financial provision on death. There are certain conditions that need to be met in order to make such a claim, one of the more onerous of these being that the cohabitant must apply to the court for financial provision within six months of the death.

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This strict time bar can prove difficult for a cohabitant who wishes to make a claim, particularly given the often unsettling circumstances that must be faced following the death. The Scottish Government has sought views on extending the period for making an application and we will have to wait and see if this is ever changed.

A cohabitant's claim can only be brought on intestacy (where there is no Will). With this in mind, the Scottish Government have also suggested that a new regime for cohabitants should apply where there is a Will. For the moment, those who cohabit should have an up-to-date, valid Will; this is the best way to avoid a difficult and costly estate administration process, as well as ensuring that your wishes are carried out post-death.

Get in touch

If you need to prepare or update your Will, please get in touch with your usual Harper Macleod contact.

Or visit our 'Making a Will' page for more information.