Legal Rights in Scotland

Legal Rights are a distinctive feature of Scots Law. In Scotland, a surviving spouse/civil partner and children (including adopted children) are entitled to legal rights amounting to a proportion of the your estate when you die, with or without a Will.
Unmarried partners or cohabitants are not entitled to legal rights, however a surviving partner or cohabitant can apply to the relevant court to make a claim against the deceased’s estate within 6 months of death.
There are two types of legal rights:-

  • Rights of surviving spouse or civil partner to 1/3 of the net moveable estate if the deceased has surviving children or 1/2 of the net moveable estate if the deceased has no children;
  • Rights of surviving children to 1/3 of the net moveable estate if the deceased left a surviving spouse or 1/2 of the net moveable estate if the deceased left no surviving spouse. A proportion of the net moveable estate is split equally between the deceased’s children.

It is important to note that legal rights are payable before any legacies in the deceased’s Will. There is no obligation to claim Legal Rights. Anyone who is entitled to Legal Rights may renounce them at any time – either before or after the death of the person in whose estate they have the entitlement. Asking relatives to renounce their Legal Rights during your lifetime can be a useful estate planning tool. However, a person can never be forced to give up their entitlement, nor can they be paid to do so.
If you need advice on Legal Rights or wish a confidential meeting, please contact Caritas Legal on 01383 431 101 or lornabrown@caritaslegal.co.uk to discuss further.

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