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Prior & Legal Rights

Prior Rights

Where someone dies without making a Will, the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964 provides the deceased’s spouse or civil partner has specific rights in their estate known as Prior Rights. Prior Rights rank above all other entitlements in an estate, including the rights of children. Following an amendment to the law, there are new financial limits for the Prior Rights of spouses and civil partners of those who die without Wills.

For deaths on or after 1 February 2012, spouses and civil partners of a deceased person are entitled to the following Prior Rights on intestacy:

  • a dwelling house in which the surviving spouse or civil partner lived up to the value of £473,000 (an increase from £300,000);

  • furniture and furnishings in that dwelling house up to a maximum total value of £29,000 (an increase from £24,000); and

  • a payment of a cash sum of £50,000 if the deceased also had children or £89,000 if the deceased did not have children (increases from £42,000 and £75,000 respectively).

Therefore, the total entitlement for spouses and civil partners has increased to £552,000.


Legal Rights

Children can then claim their Legal Rights but this is only to the moveable estate (i.e. all assets except the house) which is left after the satisfaction of the above Prior Rights and is only a one third share between all of the deceased’s children where there is a surviving spouse or civil partner.


As the majority of estates are likely to fall short of the new Prior Rights limits, not having a Will could prove disastrous for your children, particularly if your spouse is not their parent. You should make a Will to ensure your wishes are implemented

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