Disinheritance in Scotland and the principle of what’s known as “legal rights” can be major issues when dealing with a deceased person’s estate in Scotland.
“Forced heirship” is a principle common in many legal systems. In basic terms, forced heirship directs that a portion of a deceased person’s estate is passed to a close relative – typically the deceased’s spouse and/or children.
Scottish law includes a variation of forced heirship, known as legal rights.
As you can imagine, disinheritance in Scotland and legal rights (forced heirship) can be particularly thorny issues for people who have remarried and have children by a former relationship – as well as those who may have fallen out of contact or favour with their child or children.
Regardless of whether or not the deceased made a Will, in Scotland a portion of the estate can be claimed by a surviving spouse and children.
Practically speaking, it is very difficult to disinherit children under the Scottish system of succession.
The surviving spouse and children in Scotland each have automatic rights to make a claim on their deceased spouse or parent’s estate, and this right extends for twenty years after the death.
If the executor of a deceased person’s estate doesn’t address the issue of legal rights claims on the estate, that executor may be held personally liable for the amount due to the claimant – plus interest.