HM Insights

Reforming the Law of Succession in Scotland – avoiding unexpected consequences of dying without a Will

The Scottish Government has recently issued its response to the consultation on the law of succession from 2019.

The intention of the consultation is to bring Scotland up to date in this legal area as the current law is largely based on legislation from almost 60 years ago.

The consultation focused on who should inherit a person's estate when they die without making a Will, this is known as "intestacy". One of the key issues is deciding who should inherit where the deceased is survived by a surviving spouse/civil partner and children. The consultation also considered the position of cohabitants and whether or not they should be given greater rights when a partner dies without making a Will.


An appetite for reform, but no clear answer

The initial response to the consultation was overwhelmingly in favour of reform - the law should "reflect generally expected outcomes" and not the unexpected consequence that can happen for families if a loved one dies today without having made a Will. There was not however a clear consensus on what the reformed law should be. However, there was not a clear consensus on what the reformed law should be.

This is not a formal response from the Scottish Government, but recognises the predominant view that the law in this area should generally "reflect the individual expectations" on how a deceased person's estate should devolve on their death. However, this in itself is a difficult matter to define and set out in statute. Everyone has different expectations.

The Scottish Government is committing to completing further research and evidence. This is to include gathering information from the public on reforming the law of succession in Scotland. This will also link in with the reform that is currently being undertaken in connection with family law and cohabitants as it is vital that these two reform projects are in tune with one another and are not dealt with in isolation.

In the future we can expect to see a campaign by the Scottish Government to raise awareness on these issues and how the current regime works where a person does not leave a Will.

Don't leave your estate to a 60-year-old law

Whilst reform is ongoing, the best planning that you can do is to make a Will or update the one that you currently have. By putting a Will in place, this ensures that your estate will pass in accordance with your wishes and not according to a law that is reaching its expiry date.

Get in touch

If you wish to put a Will in place or discuss what would happen in your circumstances, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our Private Client team and we will be more than happy to assist:

Edinburgh: 0131 247 2500                          Inverness & Highlands: 01463 795 035

Glasgow: 0141 227 9344                            Shetland01595 695 583 

Elgin: 01343 542623

We have solicitors and offices across the country and are ready to help. 

We can provide the assistance you need to protect your assets and your loved ones. This will allow you to put your mind at ease, knowing everything is in hand.

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