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Succession Planning and Stepchildren in Scotland

Written by:
Category: News
20 September 2019
Succession planning can be challenging, particularly with the increase in the number of stepfamilies. According to the Scottish Law Commission, it is estimated that one in eight children are now part of a stepfamily and over half of all families in the UK are stepfamilies.

A question which has been debated is whether or not step children should have the same inheritance rights afforded by law to that of biological or adopted children. At present, a surviving spouse and children have the right to make statutory claims against a deceased person’s estate. Crucially, this only includes biological or adopted children. Step-children, though they may be just as much a part of a family as a biological or adopted child, have no such statutory rights.

Reviews of the law of succession have not thus far covered this area, likely due to the fact that given the broad diversity in the closeness of step children and step parents between families, it makes it difficult to cover all scenarios with one piece of legislation while maintaining the ultimate goal of fairness. For example, if step children were able to inherit from their step parents, this could mean that they would inherit from their step parents as well as their biological parents. This in itself could cause potential unfairness.

With the law as it stands, the most straight forward way to remedy any unfairness would be to include stepchildren in a will. This would ensure that the wishes of the deceased person are made clear and it would safeguard the succession right of the stepchild. Will writing is not the only remedy, with lifetime gifting and the creation of trusts being other vehicles by which a step child’s inheritance can be safeguarded.

For more advice on will writing and succession planning to include stepchildren, please do get in touch with any of our lawyerswho will be happy to help you.

Written by:

Paris Steele has been providing a comprehensive legal service to the residents of East Lothian since 1926. We have offices in North Berwick and Dunbar and are proud to combine the highest quality of professional advice with first rate customer service. We understand the importance of getting to know you and our legal services will be individually tailored to meet your needs and resources. We are happy to act for both individuals and businesses. Our services are available to everyone and whilst our area of practice is limited to within Scotland we have clients from the whole of the UK and overseas.

We understand the importance of getting to know you and our legal services will be individually tailored to meet your needs and resources. We are happy to act for both individuals and businesses.