Intestate Succession Needs Reform In Scotland

A Scottish Government consultation has revealed the need for reform with regards to intestate succession.

The consultation, which ran for 12 weeks between February and March of this year, asked for a variety of views. One of the issues requiring opinions from those in the legal profession, was in relation to amending or changing the law to allow anyone charged and convicted of murder and other crimes to be removed from being executors for their victims’ wills.

This change is due to the much publicised legal battle involving Lorraine Bristow, who worked tirelessly to remove her brother as Executor to their mothers Will after he murdered her.

Under Scottish law the conviction of an individual precludes them from inheriting from their victim’s estate, however, there is a legal loophole permitting them to be appointed as an Executor.

Following analysis of the 59 view points submitted in the consultation, it was clear that this was one of the areas that required reform.

The Scottish Government’s response to the consultation said:

“There was, however, a degree of consensus and agreement on the discrete issues we consulted on. A majority agreed that:

  • a person convicted of murder/culpable homicide should not be allowed to be executor to their victim’s estate;”

This area of the consultation was a ‘discreet’ issue, and it may be unclear as to how and when the law will be changed to prevent murders from becoming an executor on their victim’s estate.

The main issues that the consultation wanted to highlight, focused on intestate rules with regards to splitting the estate between a spouse/civil partner and children.

There seemed to be a split in the opinions rendered in the consultation, as the Scottish Government was given no clear indication of how to amend the intestate laws accordingly. Reforms are required, but what they looked like couldn’t be identified in these early days.

More information about the consultation can be found here.

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