We received a total of 59 responses from a mix of the legal profession, legal academia and individuals.
The overwhelming majority of respondents agreed that the current approach to intestate succession needs to be reformed, and agreed that the aim of reform should be to reflect generally expected outcomes. Despite this, there was no clear consensus amongst respondents on the way forward both in terms of what the reforms should achieve and, therefore, what the reforms should look like.
Of the two alternative approaches to intestate succession discussed in our consultation, more than half of respondents favoured neither approach.
On cohabitation, almost two-thirds of respondents agree that cohabitants should continue to apply to the courts in order to obtain financial provision on intestacy. On the range of questions involving treatment of a cohabitant where a deceased person is also survived by a spouse/civil partner respondents' views were more mixed. Broadly, however, they reflect the idea that marriage and civil partnership should be accorded greater recognition in intestate succession than cohabitation.
There was, however, a degree of consensus and agreement on the discrete issues we consulted on. A majority agreed that:
- there should be a time limit for claims of temporary aliment;
- a person convicted of murder/culpable homicide should not be allowed to be executor to their victim's estate;
- personal data publicly available with a Grant of Confirmation causes difficulty for beneficiaries, executors, the deceased's family and others; and,
- the small estates limit should be reviewed.
Although not a formal response to our consultation, we have also listened to the views of a number of legal academics given at the Symposium on the Reform of Succession Law at the University of Edinburgh Law School. The Symposium, and a number of articles arising from it, raised a number of relevant points about intestate succession that have had an effect on our approach going forward.