The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has published a research briefing on inheritance law in Scotland (also known as succession law or the law of succession). It looks at both at the current law and recent attempts by the Scottish Government to reform it, including an ongoing consultation which closes on 10 May 2019.

The briefing acts as a good introduction to Scotland’s inheritance law, which differs from that of England and Wales. North of the border, for example, ‘it is not possible for a person to use a will to entirely disinherit their spouse, civil partner or children, including their grown up children. This is due to the (slightly oddly named) concept of legal rights.’

Legal rights distinguish between different types of property, namely heritable (land and buildings) and moveable (everything else). This distinction – or rather its proposed abolition for inheritance law purposes – was at the centre of the controversy associated with some of the Scottish Law Commission’s proposals, discussed under the heading ‘Protection from disinheritance’.

The SPICe briefing cites the most recent research, by the Scottish Consumer Council, on how common it is for people to make wills in Scotland. Of those surveyed for that study, only 37% had made a will: ‘overall, the research suggested that the number of people who die without making a will [intestate] is likely to be substantial.’

Reasons for this are presumably many and varied but a glance over this latest briefing from Scottish Parliament may help to inform and persuade readers of the benefits of leaving a properly executed will, taking into consideration potential legislative reform and tax implications.

For advice on the law relating to wills and estate planning, please contact a member of our Tax & Succession team on 0131 228 8111 or at Enquiries.