What happens if you don't have a Will?
- Your family will be uncertain as to whether they benefit, and some of them may not
- The family will have to go to Court to have an Executor appointed
- Your estate will usually not go exactly where you want, but according to the arbitrary rules of the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964, or if you are domiciled in England, the equivalent legislation
- There is will be additional expenses such as legal fees and Court fees,Insurance Bonds often running to over £1,000 or more
- there will be delays in passing on your estate
When should you make/review a Will?
- Your first or new job/or new pension arrangements
- When you marry/enter into a Civil Partnership/separate/divorce
- When you buy your first home
- When you have children
- If you inherit some money
- When you retire
- As you get older
- When you say, "I've been meaning to do one for ages."
- when your spouse/civil partner dies
single people who live together as a couple
The only way to ensure your estate is distributed amongst your loved ones is to make a Will. However, married couples and civil partners have the safety net of Prior Rights should their spouse or
Partner die without making a Will. Prior Rights ensure the surviving spouse or partner automatically receives an entitlement to share in the estate. These include:
The family home (up to a value of £473,000)
The contents of the family home (up to a value of £29,000) and
The first £89,000 of moveable estate (£50,000 if the deceased had children)
The surviving partner in an unmarried relationship has no automatic right of any description to inherit any part of the deceased partner’s estate. Painful and unfair as this may seem, this is the current position in the Law of Succession in Scotland.
What if the deceased partner was divorced?
If the deceased partner is divorced, the Prior Rights issue disappears. However, it still does not resolve the unmarried surviving partner’s problems. He or she still does not have any automatic right to share in the deceased partner’s estate. If the deceased partner had children, it is they who are entitled to the estate. If there are no children, the estate would then look to parents and then siblings and then wider relations to discover someone entitled to receive the estate. Even if the deceased partner has no relations who could share in the estate, the surviving unmarried partner is still not entitled to any part of the estate!
Tragic though this may seem, the only way the surviving partner can receive or share in the estate is by raising court proceedings. This will be expensive and time consuming, especially if objections are lodged to the claim by relatives of the deceased.
How can unmarried couples overcome these problems?
The quickest and easiest way to overcome these problems is for each of the partners to make a Will. This allows them to dictate who should share in their estate after their death. In addition, when children from different relationships are involved, it allows the partners to deal with this rather than depending entirely on the Law of Succession.
Making a Will is not hard. Our experienced Wills solicitors will explain the process to you and take you through it quickly and carefully. This will ensure that your wishes are carried out after you finally pass away.
Any children have an automatic entitlement to Legal Rights in the estate of their parent. Those rights relate to the moveable estate left by the deceased and there are rules governing what they are entitled to receive. However, Legal Rights would not, for instance, mean that the children have any automatic entitlement to the family home. If the deceased partner directs that any heritable property be left to the surviving partner, the children cannot do anything about that.
What are the next steps unmarried couples need to take?
The very first step is to contact us. When you do that, our solicitors who have many years of experience in preparing Wills for unmarried couples in North Berwick and Dunbar in East Lothian and right across Scotland will answer your questions and deal with the drawing up of your Will. When it has been completed to your satisfaction, you will sign it and your loved one’s entitlement to your estate is protected.
None of us know when the time will come for us to leave our loved ones so do not delay in making your decision to make
What can you do in a Will?
Leave your estate exactly where you want it to go*, including to charities,
Appoint Executors you want to deal with your estate
Control how part of your estate passes to younger children. They will otherwise inherit at the age of 16, which may be too young in many cases
reduce the effect of Inheritance Tax
Know that your affairs are in order, which makes you feel better
Take account of certain legal rules which give some members of your family special rights
We think it is important that everyone has a Will. Why not speak to us about it. The cost is probably less than you think. The cost of not having a Will will be more than you imagine!
Scots Law makes certain provisions for a spouse, or civil partner, and children to make claims for Legal Rights. They do not extend to heritable property (land, houses, buildings, etc.) These are rights that exist even where there is a Will. Legal Rights are claimed from relatively few estates, but they can cause difficulties. When we advise you on your Will, we can identify exactly what claims might be made, and how they are best dealt with.