Scottish Government to consider reform of inheritance law

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 17 February 2019 in News

The consultation, opening today, will examine whether inheritance rules reflect the needs of modern society

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The Scottish Government will reconsider reforming laws covering inheritance following the launch of a new consultation.

The consultation, opening today, will examine whether inheritance rules reflect the needs of modern society, with ministers considering issues such as how an estate should be split when there are both a surviving spouse and children, which it describes as a “key area which remained unresolved”.

In a foreword to the consultation, Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said the government would consider reforms to the law of intestacy with reference to regimes which operate elsewhere.

She said: “Given that the current rules on intestacy have been in place for over half a century, the approaches explored in this paper may seem novel. Nevertheless I would urge you to consider them and would be grateful for your views.”

The consultation also considers what rights cohabitants should have regarding succession, and whether step-children should have the same inheritance rights as biological or adopted children.

It will also consider changing the law so those convicted of murder or other crimes could be removed from being executors for their victims’ wills.

Denham said: “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.

“This issue affects all of us and we want our reforms to reflect the views of 21st century Scotland. The law should be fair and representative so it is important we hear from people of all ages and backgrounds. I hope that people will take this opportunity to share their opinions and experiences.”

Convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s Trusts and Succession Law Sub-Committee Gordon Wyllie said: “We welcome the opportunity for further consultation and reform of succession law. It is important that the law reflects the needs of modern society, and we strongly encourage reform in areas where the law has struggled to keep up with societal and technological changes.

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

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