01 February 2016
On Friday 29 January 2016 the Succession (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament. This is the first in a two stage reform by the Scottish Parliament of the law of succession in Scotland. With the majority of Scottish succession law being contained in the Succession Act of 1964 it is generally considered that changes in society in the last 50 years mean reform is long overdue.
This first stage is more of a technical tidying up exercise. Among others, the Bill deals with the following points:
- Spouses who divorce or have a marriage annulled or dissolved will no longer be able to benefit from provision in an ex-spouse’s Will where the Will was written prior to divorce unless the Will specifically provides otherwise;
- The same will apply to survivorship destinations (where title to joint property passes automatically to the survivor on death);
- Wills revoked by new Wills will no longer revive if the new Will itself is revoked;
- It will be assumed a person making a Will automatically wishes a child or grandchild’s own children to inherit if their parent is mentioned as a beneficiary and predeceases the testator. This is already a presumption in Scots law but under this legislation the presumption will no longer apply to nieces and nephews or where an alternative beneficiary is named.
- A law to allow rectification to Wills will be introduced, where it can be established that the person’s intentions as to the distribution of their estate were not replicated in the Will.
The second stage of this succession reform will be more fundamental with changes to the law distributing an estate where a person dies without a Will and in connection with children and spouses’ legal rights of inheritance on death. A draft Bill is awaited on these further changes.
What is clear is that with these recent changes to the law of succession and the forthcoming more fundamental changes it is now more important than ever to take specialist advice in connection with your wishes as to how your estate should be distributed on your death. Succession should never be left in the hands of an ‘off the shelf’ pre-printed Will.
For more advice on Wills and succession law please contact Ross Brown firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0141 221 8012