Dundee Family Lawyer

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Ex-Spouses Will No Longer Inherit Without Express Provision

The Succession (Scotland) Bill has passed its final reading in the Scottish Parliament. This Bill follows a series of reports by the Scottish Law Commission which recommended that changes are made to how cohabitants inherit, disinheritance and the rules that govern intestate succession.

The Bill is the most significant reform of succession law for over 50 years, and it aims to make succession law fairer and more transparent. Many legal academics consider current succession laws to be unfair on those who are the beneficiaries of small estates and believe that changes need to be made to reflect the way Scottish society has developed over time.

A major change that will be made by this Bill is that an ex-spouse will not be able to make a claim upon their former husband or wife’s estate unless express provision has been made for them in the will.

Other changes include the introduction of a process to rectify wills in certain circumstances and changes to survivorship rules in cases where the order of death is unclear.

However, although these changes have been well received, it is clear that many further reforms are necessary. The changes introduced by the Succession Bill do not tackle the fundamental aspects of inheritance law that affect most people in Scotland.

Further discussions are ongoing concerning intestacy law. Over 60% of Scots have not made a will, and the less valuable an estate is, the less likely a will will be in place. Succession law currently requires an estate to be split into heritable (land and houses) and moveable (everything else such as money and personal possessions). Some legal commentators believe the distinction between both types of property should be removed. Intestacy reforms will be stalled while these discussions are ongoing.

Write a Will

Although the government has taken steps to make succession law fairer, and further reforms are being planned for the future, it remains advisable to make a will.

Writing a will gives you the power to communicate what you want to happen to the property and money you have worked hard to acquire throughout your life. You can specify who you want to receive your property, in accordance with succession rules. You can set up a trust to benefit you family members or leave money to a charity you cared a lot about throughout your life. You can leave a personal possession to someone who it will mean something to.

Writing a will also allows you to select the person you would like to act as executor of your estate. The executor winds up the estate by calculating the value of all the property, paying debts and administering the property in accordance with the wishes of the will. Many people find it reassuring to know that these tasks will be carried out by a person they chose and trusted.

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