Having a Will is an essential step to ensuring your assets, property and possessions are distributed to the people you love after your death. There are numerous advantages to having a Will in place, from naming your Executor to expressing your views on organ donation. At James & George Collie, our qualified lawyers can help you review or update your existing Will, or support you with writing a new one. To discuss your specific circumstances, speak with a member of our team today.

Is my Will valid?

While many people may have a Will, it is possible that the Will itself is not legally valid. If you are making a Will in Scotland, you must be over the age of 12 and have chosen to write one voluntarily. For a Will to be valid, it must:

  • be in writing
  • be signed on every page by the person writing the Will
  • be witnessed and signed by someone over 16 years old

Having your Will reviewed by a qualified solicitor who can ensure all legal formalities have been followed, will give you and your family peace of mind should anything happen in the future.

Why make a Will?

It is wrong to assume that all of your money and possessions will automatically go to the people you wish on your death. It is particularly important to make a Will if you are unmarried but wish for your partner to get a share of the estate. If you die without a Will and have a cohabiting partner, they will not automatically get anything from your estate and will instead need to make an application to the court. Making a Will is crucial if you want to state who should inherit from your estate and by how much.

What happens when you die without a Will?

When somebody dies and does not leave a Will behind, their estate will rely on the Rules of Intestacy. Once an executor has been appointed and all debts are paid, the legislation in Scotland determines how the deceased’s estate should be divided.

Prior Rights

The deceased’s spouse will be entitled to Prior Rights; inheriting assets up to the value of £473,000, furniture up to £29,000 and an entitlement to £50,000 cash (where there are children) or £89,000 if there are no children. If any of the estate is left after Prior Rights, the surviving spouse and children are then entitled to Legal Rights from the deceased’s moveable estate.

Legal Rights

Legal Rights allow one-third of the estate to go to the surviving partner, one-third to the children, and one-third to the ‘free estate’. In cases where there are no children, the spouse is entitled to half of the moveable estate, with the remainder distributed as follows:

  • Parents and brothers/sisters
  • Brother/sisters
  • Parents
  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Uncles and aunts
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings of grandparents
  • Ancestors more distant than grandparents

Should the deceased have no family that falls under the list, then the entire estate is passed to the Crown.

An intestate estate can be both time-consuming and expensive to administer. The default rules of who should inherit the estate can cause various problems and make certain loved ones feel left out. To ensure that the charities and people close to you benefit from your estate on your death, get in touch with our team to write a Will today. 


As a full-service law firm, our Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning solicitors regularly work alongside colleagues in other departments, such as property and family law, to ensure that the service received by our clients is comprehensive and that all matters relating to their Will are adequately dealt with. We are a traditional yet progressive law firm and take pride in offering legal advice that not only meets clients' expectations but exceeds them.

For information and advice, please contact Forbes McLennan by email or by telephone 01224 581581. Alternatively, please complete our online contact form.

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