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Succession (Scotland) Bill Passes Final Stage

Succession law touches the life of every person in Scotland as most people will inherit something over the course of their lives and most people will leave some money or possessions behind when they die. Succession law in Scotland has long been accused of being out of step with modern society and in dire need of reform.

The Scottish Law Commission, a body which recommends ways to improve, simplify and reform the laws of Scotland, put forward reports recommending changes in 1990 and 2009. The areas of succession law that they highlighted as being in the most pressing need of update were intestacy, cohabitation and disinheritance of children.

These reports formed the foundation of the Succession (Scotland) Bill which recently passed its final stage in the Scottish Parliament.

Perhaps the most significant change that will be brought by the new legislation is that ex-spouses and ex-civil partners will no longer be able to inherit from their former partner’s estate unless there has been express provision made for them in the will.

The Bill also tackles the problem of many small estates in Scotland being all but extinguished and leaving no money to beneficiaries due to the need to instruct a solicitor. The new law will better protect the beneficiaries of small estates.

Other reforms include protections for trustees and executors and the right to claim the expense of mourning.

Further Reforms Needed

However, although these reforms have been widely well received, it is clear that further reforms of family and succession law are needed, particularly for the laws surrounding cohabitation and intestacy.

Cohabitation is defined as two people living together as if they are married or civil partners. With almost 30% of adults in the UK in a cohabiting relationship, this is the fastest growing type of family in the country. The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 recognised this growing societal trend by making it possible for cohabitants to make a claim on their partner’s estate if their partner died without making a will. However, in reality, this can be difficult as it involves the stress and expense of going to court with no guarantee that the court will make an award.

Why You Should Write a Will

When someone dies without making a will, they are described as having died “intestate.” Intestacy in Scotland is very high with a recent survey of adult Scots revealing that only 37% of adults having made a will. If you do not write a will before you die, your estate will be split up according to the Rules of Succession. Writing a will allows you to communicate what you want to happen to your property once you die. This means that you could leave money or property to your partner or even a charity you cared a lot about.

Further succession law reforms have been tabled, but it remains advisable to write a will.

Will Lawyers Glasgow

Family Law Glasgow are a friendly team of family law experts. Contact us today to find out how you can put your mind at ease about the future with a will.

If you would like to know more about how our team can help you contact us online.

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