Skip to main content

Key Differences Between An English Will & A Scottish Will

Scottish vs english wills

There are many significant differences between Scottish Wills and English Wills that could impact you when distributing your Estate at a later date, so it is crucial to determine which court will administer the Estate, as the Will must comply with the legal requirements of the respective country.

In England, a Will must be signed by the testator and two witnesses to be considered valid. On the other hand, in Scotland, only one witness is required, but the testator must sign each page of the Will to ensure its legal standing. The Law Society of Scotland also places restrictions on solicitors preparing Wills that contain self-beneficiary clauses, with some exceptions.

In the context of inheritance laws, significant variations exist between Scotland and England. For instance, in Scots Law, spouses and children are entitled to inherit a portion of the net movable Estate even with a Will, representing an automatic safeguard not present in English law.

Scots law also introduces the concepts of Legal Rights and Prior Rights, which prioritise the deceased's spouse and/or children in Estate distribution. Prior Rights only apply where an individual dies without a Will. Legal Rights are viewed as a debt against the Estate, prioritised before any legacy payments to other beneficiaries. Legal Rights apply whether you have or do not have a Will. Additionally, adoption laws in Scotland grant adopted children the same Legal Rights as biological children.

Marriage does not annul a previous Will in Scotland, distinguishing the legal landscape from that of England and Wales, where marriage invalidates a prior Will. In Scotland getting divorced can prevent the former spouse or civil partner from being Executor or inheriting.

What are the key differences between a Scottish Will and an English Will ?


Scotland

England

one witness is required, but the testator must sign every page of the Will to ensure its validity

Will must be signed by the testator and two witnesses to be valid

You must be aged 12 years or over

You must be aged 18 years or over

Witnesses can also be beneficiaries in Scotland, although not recommended

Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries in England

Spouses and children have an automatic entitlement to inherit part of the Testator's net movable Estate, regardless of whether there is a Will in Scotland

There are no automatic safeguards for spouses and children

Marriage or civil partnership does not revoke an existing will in Scotland

Marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes an existing will

Should be registered in the Books of Council and Session

Does not need to be registered


Whether you should opt for a Scottish or an English Will depends on your circumstances and preferences. It may be beneficial to have both.

To ensure your Will accurately reflects your wishes and complies with the legal requirements of your chosen jurisdiction, it is advisable to seek expert guidance. Burnett & Reid specialise in assisting clients with instructing and drafting Wills tailored to their specific needs.

Contact us today to begin the process of securing your legacy and protecting your assets for the future.