Consultation on Fairer Succession Law Opens

Author: Mitchells Roberton
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On the 17 February 2019 the Scottish Government launched a public consultation to ascertain how the law of succession could better reflect 21st Century Scotland.

The public’s view on the following main two points is being sought:

  • How an intestate estate should be split when there are both a surviving spouse/civil partner and children left  and
  • What rights cohabitants should have regarding succession including whether stepchildren should be given the same rights to inheritance as biological and adopted children.

The last consultation held by the Scottish Government on the law of succession was in 2015 but at that time there was insufficient consensus on a number of significant recommendations to allow any changes.

The key area which remained unresolved after the 2015 consultation was how an intestate estate should be divided when there is both a surviving spouse/civil partner and children. This current consultation hopes to achieve a fresh approach to the reform of intestacy law. It is asking the public whether Scotland should adopt a new regime which operates in places such as British Columbia and Washington State. The British Columbia model, for example, makes provision for those who are children of the deceased but not the surviving spouse/civil partner and reduces the value of the survivor’s share and increases that available for the children.

Community safety minister, Ash Denham, is encouraging people of all ages and all backgrounds to respond to the consultation.Ms Denham explained

“The make- up of families in Scotland is vastly different today than it was when these laws were passed over half a century ago, including significantly more families made up of cohabiting couples and an increased number of step-families.”

Gordon Wyllie, Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Trust and Succession Law Sub-Committee concluded:

“We believe that changes to inheritance rules are required and we look forward to engaging with the government on this issue.”

The consultation closes on 10 May 2019 and can be accessed here:

If you are looking for expert legal advice about writing or updating your Will or have a general enquiry about an executry please contact me Laura Burns on 0141 552 3422 or by email

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