No will?

What’s in a will

A will is a legal declaration of a person's wishes for what happens to their estate after death. In Scotland, it should be signed on every page. There can be a lot of information in a will, but generally, the 'highlights' are:

  • who is appointed to carry out the instructions in the will - the executor(s)
  • special arrangements for children and/or pets
  • if any specific items or assets have been left to someone in particular
  • who is due to inherit whatever is left over at the end - these people are called ‘residual beneficiaries

Legal rights of spouses and children

In Scotland, a spouse and any children can never be written out of a will - they are always entitled to their ‘legal rights’.

Even if they are provided for in a will, their legal rights may be of higher value. If there is no will, legal rights are dealt with by the rules of intestacy.

Find out more about legal rights

Changing a will

The terms of a will can be changed within 2 years of the death as long as anyone who stands to lose out is in agreement. This can be useful to:

  • reduce a beneficiary’s own future inheritance tax bill
  • change who receives money from the estate (was someone left out?)
  • move the deceased’s assets into a trust
  • clear up any uncertainty over the will
  • reduce other tax liabilities like capital gains and income tax.

You can just write a letter using a government checklist (please check the rules carefully). You may wish to hire a lawyer to help you with this work.

Find out more information about dealing with a death