Ex-spouses to no longer inherit without express provision following passage of Succession (Scotland) Bill

Paul Wheelhouse

A bill to reform succession laws, including the effects of divorce, dissolution or annulment on a will, has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The Succession (Scotland) Bill introduces changes to ensure the law of succession is fairer, clearer and more consistent in the first significant reform of succession in over 50 years.

The changes mean once a marriage or civil partnership is divorced or annulled, the ex-spouse/civil partner will no longer be able to inherit unless the will makes specific provision for them.

Other reforms being introduced include establishing a process for the rectification of a will in certain circumstances; reforming the law relating to revival of a revoked will; changes to how survivorship operates where there is uncertainty as to the order of death and reforming the law relating to forfeiture.

The bill also protects beneficiaries of small estates after market changes meant individuals faced paying significant solicitor fees to administer relatively small estates which could severely reduce the amount they receive from the estate.

Legal affairs minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “The law of succession affects society as a whole and this bill, which makes the first significant changes to succession in over 50 years, ensures the law is fairer, clearer and more consistent.

“Dealing with the death of a loved one is clearly a distressing and emotional time for any family and it is important that the law is modernised to make dealing with succession issues as easy and straightforward as possible for individuals and families.

“We were also pleased to have the chance to protect beneficiaries of small estates from being obliged to instruct a solicitor which could severely diminish or even drain a small estate.”