Date01 January 2020
Publication Date01 January 2020

Intestate succession law affects a considerable portion of society,1 and has serious implications for how wealth is distributed on death, including for questions of wealth equality. Yet, or perhaps precisely because of its importance, it is challenging to design a satisfactory set of intestacy rules, not least because of the need to balance manifold interests. Moreover, it is notoriously difficult to reach consensus about what the exact rationale underlying intestate succession law should be and therefore what criteria should guide the legislature. It is thus perhaps unsurprising that Scots law has been struggling to implement a reform of its intestacy rules, despite the fact that dissatisfaction with the current rules looms large.

In Scotland intestate succession law has been under review since the 1980s.2 The Scottish Law Commission has published two reports on succession law, one in 19903 and one in 2009,4 both of which contain recommendations on intestacy which remain unimplemented. After a consultation on the 2009 recommendations carried out in 2015, and a further public attitudes survey, the Scottish Government published its response in 2018.5 The response was then followed by another consultation launched in February 2019,6 the aim of which was to seek views on a “fresh approach to reform of the law of intestacy with reference to regimes which operate elsewhere”. The consultation is now closed, and we are awaiting the response from the Scottish Government, which has been announced for spring 2020. Meanwhile, a number of questions arise. Are the proposals put forward both by the Scottish...

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