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If the deceased has not left a Will, laws known as the rules of intestacy will come into play. These default rules will apply regardless of the deceased’s intentions.

The estate would first be subject to debts and other liabilities. Then, if the deceased was married or in a civil partnership, the surviving spouse or civil partner has a Prior Right to the deceased’s dwelling house, furniture and furnishings from the home, and a cash sum (the value of which depends on whether the deceased had children). More detail on prior rights to an estate are available here.

Once any Prior Rights are met, the surviving spouse or partner and children are entitled to a proportion of the deceased’s moveable estate (property other than land and buildings, such as money, vehicles and jewellery). This is known as a “Legal Right”. If the deceased left children or descendants, the surviving spouse or partner is entitled to one-third of the moveable estate, and the children are collectively entitled to one-third of the moveable estate (divided equally between the children). Where a child would have had a claim had he or she not died before the deceased, their direct descendants can claim his or her share. If the deceased did not leave children or descendants, the surviving spouse or partner can claim one half of the moveable estate.

When both the Prior and Legal Rights have been satisfied, the deceased’s relatives inherit the whole of the remainder in the following order:

  • Children
  • Half to parents and half to siblings
  • Siblings, if the deceased’s parents are no longer living
  • Parents, if the deceased did not have brothers and sisters
  • Surviving spouse or civil partner
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Grandparent(s)
  • Grandparents’ siblings
  • More remote relatives
  • The Crown, if no relatives can be identified.

It is important to note that unmarried partners do not automatically inherit anything under the rules of intestacy. It is also a common misperception that a spouse or civil partner will automatically inherit everything – in reality, children and grandchildren will also have a claim on the estate.

The only way to ensure that your intentions are given effect after your death is to make a Will. Otherwise, the legal default rules will apply. For this reason, we advise that all adults write a Will. It is important to obtain advice from an Executry Solicitor, who will ensure that your Will is legally valid. In most cases, making a Will is a quick and relatively inexpensive procedure. Please contact us if you have any questions about creating a Will. We are also able to advise on updating your Will if your circumstances have changed since it was first drafted.

Wilson & Fish Expert Executry and Probate Solicitors Glasgow, Scotland

At Wilson & Fish Solicitors, we specialise in Probate and Executry services. We are based in Glasgow, and advise clients across Scotland, including from Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, East Kilbride and Stirling. If you have any questions regarding intestate estates, or would like to discuss making a Will, please contact us today on 01412227951 or fill in our online enquiry form. Our experienced and knowledgeable solicitors can advise at your earliest convenience.

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