The Scottish Government has announced plans to amend the law relating to the forced sale of homes for those who die intestate, that is without a will. Under the current law, relatives of any person who dies intestate can be forced to sell the deceased's home if it is valued at over £300,000.
Under the new proposed law, this threshold will be increased to £473,000 to reflect long-term increases in property values since the last revision in 2005.
As in English law, a spouse or civil partner of a person who dies intestate in Scotland has a prior right to receive the home they shared. However the Scottish law differs from that in England and Wales if the property is worth over £300,000 when a forced sale may be ordered if there are rival claims from the deceased's children or siblings.
The amendment to the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964 will raise this threshold figure quite substantially, meaning that fewer bereaved relatives will be forced to sell property in such circumstances. It is hoped that this will in turn relieve partners from the stresses and disruption of a forced home sale in what are usually already difficult circumstances.
Bruce Ritchie from Law Society Scotland reiterated the importance of having a will for all property owners: "It is vitally important that people have a will to make sure that their wishes are properly carried out and to avoid unnecessary disputes, expense and delays".
He added that whilst the changes were "welcome" they should not "be used to undermine the message that it is necessary to write a will."
The changes are due to come into effect in February 2012. Home owners are advised to seek legal advice from a solicitor specialising in wills and probate in order to dr aft a legally valid will.
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