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What to do after a death in Scotland ... practical advice for times of bereavement: 11th Edition

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20. LEGAL RIGHTS

A surviving spouse or civil partner and children are entitled to certain "legal rights" from the "moveable estate" of the person who died. The moveable estate can include things like money, shares, cars, furniture and jewellery. The other part of the estate is called the "heritable estate" and covers land and buildings.

The surviving spouse or civil partner

A widow, widower or surviving civil partner is entitled to:

  • one third of the moveable estate if the person who died left children or descendants of children (such as grandchildren)
  • one half of the moveable estate if the person who died left no children or descendants of children.

The children

The children are entitled to:

  • one third of the moveable estate between them if the person who died left a spouse or civil partner
  • one half of the moveable estate if the person who died did not leave a spouse or civil partner.

Each child has an equal claim. If a child would have been able to claim, but dies before his or her parent, the child's descendants (such as the grandchildren) can claim by the principle known as representation. Representation is further explained at section 22.