Living in Scotland? Do you know who your assets will go to when you die?

We wrote recently about new rules that came into effect in England and Wales changing who potentially benefits from your estate once you die. But what if you live in Scotland?

The rules are more complicated for those north of the border, so let’s take a closer look.

As with English rules, if you have a valid will in place then you will not be affected by these changes, but if you die and have no will in place then there are intestacy rules that dictate who will inherit by law.

If you die leaving a spouse or civil partner behind and your house is owned jointly, then it is worth noting that the house will automatically pass to the surviving spouse. If not, the surviving spouse will receive the house (if it is worth less than £473,000) plus up to £29,000 worth of furniture and furnishings. If the property is valued above this level, then the surviving spouse receives just £473,000, plus up to £29,000 worth of furniture and furnishings. The amount in excess of £473,000 is dealt with as follows:

If there are no children, then the spouse receives up to £89,000 plus one-third of your ‘moveable estate’. This term refers to anything you own other than house, land and buildings such as money in the bank, investments, shares and personal possessions. Should there still be some remaining residue in your estate and you have surviving blood relatives, such as parents or siblings, then they will take claim and your spouse will receive no more. 

So what if you do have children? In Scotland, this can also mean illegitimate and adopted children, but excludes step-children, your spouse will receive up to £50,000 plus one-third of your ‘moveable estate’. Anything left will go to the children in entirety.

Of course, just like in English law, if you are cohabiting then your surviving partner gets nothing if you die without a will and has no claim to your estate.

In Scottish law, grandchildren and great grandchildren will also fall into the category of children, but will only benefit if their parent has pre-deceased you.

Finally, if you haven’t made a will and die with no surviving relatives, everything goes to the Crown.

The reasons to make a will are relevant whether you are in England or Scotland, so if you want to be certain who will benefit from your estate when you die, you really should consider making a will. It’s the only way to be sure that your remaining assets go to who you want to receive them once you’re no longer around.

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