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Consultation on succession law overhaul

Views sought on issues including protections for cohabitants

Proposals for fundamental reform of the law of succession will be looked at in a consultation launched recently.

The consultation paper, asking for views on recommendations made by the Scottish Law Commission in their Report on Succession and, looks specifically at: 

  • What should happen when there is no will;
  • What protections should be put in place from disinheritance, in particular for children, where there is a will, and;
  • What further protections should there be for cohabitants.

Underpinning the proposed changes is that rights in succession should no longer depend on the type of property in the estate but will be able to be claimed from the whole estate.

The Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, welcomed the launch of the consultation, and said:

“The Scottish Law Commission has highlighted that Succession law in Scotland is now over half a century old, and because of the way society has changed and evolved over that time, it no longer provides adequate protections for a range of individuals and families in 21st century Scotland. The Commission’s recommendations seek to update the law on succession in a number of areas.

“Succession law affects us all – and we all have different views coloured by our own circumstances and life experiences. I would encourage as many people as possible to give their views during the consultation period and help us evaluate the potential impact of the Commission’s proposals and, indeed, to shape how these proposals are taken forward. We are particularly keen to engage with those stakeholders involved in agriculture to understand the potential impact of the Commission’s proposals upon their businesses to ensure any concerns are taken into consideration and I will look to discuss these matters with relevant stakeholder before determining our approach.”

The consultation will run from 26 June 2015 for a period of 12 weeks. A copy of the paper can be viewed at:

Notes To Editors

The Commission’s 2009 recommendations also included a range of recommendations to modernise and clarify the law of succession in Scotland. These are being taken forward separately in the Succession (Scotland) Bill which was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 16 June 2015.

That Bill will:

  • Reform the law on the effect of divorce, dissolution or annulment on a will
  • Establish a process for the rectification of a will in certain circumstances
  • Reform the law relating to revival of a revoked will
  • Make changes to how survivorship should operate in Scotland where there is uncertainty as to the order of death
  • Reform the law relating to forfeiture
  • Close a number of jurisdictional gaps to ensure that Scottish courts have jurisdiction where the applicable law is Scots law.



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