What happens if you don’t have a will: Scotland
Last reviewed 12 December 2016
Scottish succession law is quite different to the rest of the UK. In Scotland, if you die without leaving a will there are prior rights, legal rights and other rights to your estate.
After debts and other liabilities have been met, your wife, husband or civil partner has the following prior rights to your estate:
- your house (providing it's not worth more than £473,000) if they were living with you, plus up to £29,000 worth of any furnishings and furniture in the house
- if the house is worth more than £473,000 they have the right to £473,000 rather than the house itself.
- the first £50,000 of the rest of the estate if you have children (or their descendants) or £89,000 of the rest of the estate if you have no children (or their descendants).
Prior rights have the first claim on the estate, followed by legal rights.
Your surviving spouse, civil partner and children have legal rights to your 'moveable' estate which includes money, shares, cars, furniture and jewellery (basically anything other than land and buildings) as follows:
- if you have children and are either married or have a civil partner, your children get one-third and your partner one-third
- if you have no children and are married or have a civil partner, they get one-half
- if you have no spouse or civil partner, your children get one-half.
The remainder of your estate goes to any surviving relatives in the following order: children; parents and siblings; siblings (if no parents); parents (if no siblings); spouse or civil partner; uncles and aunts; grandparents; siblings of grandparents; and more distant relatives. If there are no surviving relatives then the Crown takes the lot.
Where there is more than one sibling, whole-blood siblings receive preference over half-blood siblings who are usually called half-brothers and half-sisters. Whole-blood siblings have the same mother and father whereas half-blood siblings have just one parent in common.
* Information from the Scottish Government website on 1 June 2015.