What to do after a death in Scotland - practical advice for times of bereavement: revised 11th edition 2016 (web only)

General information on what to do after someone dies in Scotland and about succession and inheritance law. See https://www.mygov.scot/bereavement-benefits/ for the latest information about benefits.

This document is part of a collection

Part II. Possessions, Property And Children

This part of the booklet gives a guide to the Scottish law of succession. Succession law says what happens to someone's property when they die. Part V contains more information about succession.

This information is only a guide. If in doubt, you should take independent legal advice before doing anything. If you have limited means, you may be able to get legal advice from a solicitor free or at a low cost. You could also ask your Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.

Where the total value of possessions is small (see section 12) your local sheriff clerk will be able to help. You can find the details of your local Sheriff Court in the telephone directory, or online at www.scotcourts.gov.uk. You should telephone to arrange an interview.

10. Is there a will?

A will normally says what someone wants to happen to his or her "estate" when he or she dies. An estate includes things like the person's property, money and possessions.

  • A will may also:
  • Say what the person wished to happen to his or her body, for instance:
    • whether he or she wished to be cremated
    • whether he or she wished his or her body to be bequeathed to a hospital
    • whether any of his or her organs were to be donated
    • what sort of funeral he or she wanted.
  • Appoint one or more people as "executors". Executors are representatives of the dead person. An executor deals with someone's estate when they die (for more information see section 11).
  • Name a "guardian" to look after any children.

Finding the will

It is important to find any will(s) as soon as possible. Look amongst personal papers at home, in the bank, with the lawyer or with relatives. Whether or not the will is found, the next stage is the appointment of executors.

If there is no will, it is important to trace any relatives. A relative can be appointed as an executor to deal with the dead person's estate (see section 11).

If there is no will and no traceable relative, the property of the dead person falls by law to the Crown. For this purpose, the person who acts for the Crown in Scotland is the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer (QLTR) in Edinburgh. You can find out more about the QLTR's role at www.qltr.gov.uk. You can also find full contact details for the QLTR with other useful addresses at Part VI.



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