The law in Scotland protects married couples and those in a civil partnership. Alas, there is no protection for those who live together but who are neither married nor in a civil partnership. It matters not that, for all intent and purposes, they are living as couple and doing all the things a married couple or civil partners do. They enjoy none of the protections the law provides for when a married partner or partner in a civil partnership dies.
What normally happens when a spouse or civil partner dies without a Will?
When a spouse or civil partner dies and there is no Will, the law of Succession in Scotland sets out what should happen to the estate. The surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to Prior Rights. These are rights established in law which mean that the surviving spouse or partner automatically inherits part of the estate of the deceased. This includes the house (up to a value of £474,000), the contents of the house (up to a value of £29,000) and any moveable estate (cash, insurances etc.) up to a value of £50,000 if there are children or £89,000 if there are no children.
The surviving spouse or civil partner enjoy these rights when there is no Will before any other person who might be entitled to share in the estate.
After Prior Rights have been exhausted, the surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to Legal Rights along with the children of the deceased. Legal Rights relate to the deceased’s moveable estate – that means pretty much anything that isn’t land and buildings.
If there are children, the surviving spouse is entitled to one third of the moveable estate and the children are entitled to one third of the moveable estate and after satisfaction of Legal Rights, the children are entitled to the remaining estate, whether it is movable or heritable.
What happens when an unmarried partner dies without a Will?
The surviving partner has no entitlement to share in the estate of the deceased partner. If they wish to share in the estate, they need to raise a court action within 6 months of the date of death. The last thing the surviving partner needs when grieving for their loss is the trauma of having to go through a court process with no certainty of the outcome.
To this add the potential of those who are entitled to the estate of the deceased partner appearing on the scene and demanding their inheritance. This might include the house the deceased and the surviving partner lived in. If the title to the house is in the deceased’s name, those who are entitled, by the law of succession to inherit the estate, might well start eviction proceedings against the surviving partner.
How can this be avoided?
All this hardship, trauma and worry can be avoided if unmarried partners make their Wills. Making a Will is much more straight forward than you might imagine. We have experienced solicitors who can help guide you through the process leading to a valid Will which will give security to your partner when you die.
Call Stacey Parker today on 01383 629720 or email Stacey by clicking here.