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Legal Rights in Scotland - what does this mean?

Last Will Testament

Legal Rights in Scotland are an entitlement that spouses, civil partners, and children have to a share of a deceased person's moveable Estate (i.e., assets that can be easily moved or transferred, such as money, investments, and personal possessions) when they die.

Legal Rights apply notwithstanding the terms of the Will and can be taken up to 20 years from date of death. If they are not to be taken, then they can be discharged.

Under Scottish law, Legal Rights are designed to ensure that a spouse/civil partner or child of the deceased is not left without any financial provision. The specific Legal Rights entitlements depend on the family relationship with the deceased, and they are as follows:

  1. Spouse or civil partner: A surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to one-third of the moveable Estate of the deceased, regardless of what is stated in the Will, where there are also children and one-half where there are no children; and
  2. Children: Children of the deceased are entitled to one-third of the moveable Estate if the deceased left a surviving spouse or civil partner, or one-half of the moveable Estate if there is no surviving spouse or civil partner.

Legal Rights are an entitlement regardless of whether the deceased left a Will or not, and they take priority over any provisions in the Will. However, Legal Rights do not apply to heritable property (i.e., land and buildings), which are subject to different rules.

It is important to note that Legal Rights can be complex, and it is recommended to seek legal advice from our specialist Private Client team to fully understand your legal entitlements and how they may affect the distribution of an Estate.