Make sure the people you want to inherit your estate are the ones that do
Would you give your life savings to a relative you’ve never met?
Would you give the proceeds of an insurance policy to your 10-year-old child rather than your spouse?
Would you give your savings to your ex?
These are all examples that we have dealt with that could easily have been avoided – if the person who died had left a Will.
Wills – the Law in Scotland
In Scotland, you don’t need a Will by law.
But making a Will is the only way to ensure your assets and cash – described in law as your ‘estate’ – are left to the people you choose.
If you don’t have a valid Will when you die, you’ll be deemed to have died intestate.
This means your estate will be shared out according to specific rules set by Scots law – rather than according to your wishes.
Married Couples and Civil Partners
It’s a common misconception that your spouse will inherit your entire estate if you don’t have a will. This is not correct.
If the value of your estate is above a certain level, and you have children, they may end up inheriting more than your spouse.
This can be particularly concerning if there is a second marriage and ill feeling between the children and the second spouse.
A partner you cohabit with doesn’t have any rights to your estate under Scots law. This is regardless of how long you have been together and whether or not you have children together.
A cohabitant who has given up paid employment in order to look after the children of the relationship may be left in a particularly vulnerable position.
Your estate will pass to your family – including any jointly owned property – unless there is a survivorship clause in the title deed.
Your partner can make a claim for a share of the estate but success is not guaranteed. This involves an application to Court under the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. The process is costly, stressful and time-consuming for all people involved.
Separated Spouses/Civil Partners
Your ex-partner may be the last person in the world you would wish to inherit from your estate.
But if you’re separated and not divorced (and have not signed a separation agreement) your spouse will inherit from your estate.
This is the case even if you’ve been separated and living apart for many years.
Making a Will is the only way to ensure your separated spouse inherits less from your estate.
If you die without a Will and have children, your estate will pass directly to your children.
If you don’t have children, your estate will go to parents, siblings or more remote relatives, depending on your family tree.
Money which is due to children of the deceased is paid directly to them – regardless of whether they have the ability to look after their own affairs.
You may have a family member with a learning disability who is not able to look after their financial interests. Or you could have someone in your family with an addiction.
Leaving money to these people could cause them harm.
The only way to provide for these circumstances is to make a Will.
Contact our Will Solicitors in Inverness, Highlands, Scotland
Innes & Mackay has many years of experience drafting Wills for the communities of Inverness and the surrounding areas.
We work closely with clients to ensure their wishes are accurately, thoroughly and validly recorded. Our aim is to provide you with peace of mind that your estate will be distributed in the way you intend.
For advice on ensuring your wishes are accurately recorded, call us on 01463 232273.