Making a Will

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The advice in this guide about the preparation for writing a will, and the lists of information that your will writer will need from you, is the same for Scotland as it is for England and Wales.

This also applies to the Inheritance Tax (IHT) system, where the IHT threshold (£325,000 from April 2009) and many other factors such as exemptions and the ‘seven-year rule’ relating to gifts and legacies are the same.

Some areas of the law and legal procedures are different in Scotland:

  • a child over the age of 12 can make a will;
  • an inheritance can be taken from the age of 16;
  • in accordance with the Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991, when a child reaches 16 they no longer have a guardian and can receive inheritances. So, if you do not want them to take what they are entitled to at 16, you need to set up a trust and to specify the age at which you want the child or children to inherit; and
  • some of the terminology is different in Scotland, such as ‘probate’ (the administration of an estate), which in Scotland is called ‘confirmation’.

Legal rights in Scotland

In Scottish law you cannot totally disinherit your spouse or descendants in a will. If you have children they will be entitled to a third of your movable estate – that is, everything except land and buildings – and your spouse will be entitled to another third. You can give the remainder to whoever you wish.

If you have no children your spouse will receive half of your movable estate. However, if your spouse or civil partner has died, your children will be entitled to half of your movable estate.

The spouse must decide if they wish to take their ‘legal rights’ in the proportions described above, or to take what they have been left in the will. They cannot take both. This does not apply to property that passes outside the estate, such as payments you may be entitled to from a pension fund, or an insurance company bond.

Download Age Scotland's Making a will Factsheet

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Silver Line Scotland:
0800 4 70 80 90

Useful website

  • Citizens Advice Scotland (CAB) is a national network of free advice centres. Your local CAB can provide information on solicitors in your area.


Useful information to download

  • A factsheet from Age Scotland with more detailed information about how to arrange for someone to look after your money, property and welfare.

    Download Age Scotland's Making a will Factsheet

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