Family fall outs are nothing new. However, when a child is cut out of a Will, this can lead to untold family frustration. This was recently the case when the son of Bedazzled star Liz Hurley found he had been disinherited by his father in his Will.
Thankfully, the rules North and South of the border vary quite dramatically in relation to the disinheritance of children. For instance, in Scotland, it is not possible to disinherit your children. Whether or not you have chosen to make a Will, children and spouses have what are known as Legal Rights to your estate. Legal Rights are an automatic entitlement which are enjoyed by the surviving spouse and any children. The term “children” in this regard normally includes any adopted and illegitimate children. This usually comes as a surprise to those making a Will.
Contrary to popular belief, if you die without a Will in Scotland, your whole estate does not automatically pass to your spouse. Your surviving spouse has certain Prior Rights to the house, its furnishings and to cash, each up to a defined value which changes every few years. Your spouse and children have automatic Legal Rights to either a third or a half of your net moveable property depending on whether or not the spouse, or children, or both spouse and children, survive. If there is a surviving spouse, then the children are entitled to one third amongst them and vice versa. If no surviving spouse, the children are entitled to one half amongst them and vice versa. If there is no Will in place, the remaining estate is divided in a particular order, with children inheriting before parents and siblings and all of them will inherit before your spouse.
Although Legal Rights exist whether or not someone has made a Will, the importance of making a Will cannot be underestimated. Having a Will in place ensures that your affairs are in order for those left behind and provides your family with much needed comfort and peace of mind. Without a Will, the law will decide for you who should inherit your estate.
If you wish to discuss your family circumstances and the importance of having a Will in place, then Talk to Thompsons.
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Blog by Ailidh Ballantyne, Solicitor