As several people in Scotland have also lived in England at one time or another, it is common for individuals to hold assets on both sides of the border. In this blog, our specialist private client solicitors provide legal guidance on the topic.
What is the difference between Scottish and English Wills?
It is important to be aware that the law covering Wills, and who is entitled to inherit your estate, changes between Scotland and England. Regardless of the provisions found in your Will, spouses and children are entitled to a share of your estate under Scots law; commonly referred to as Prior Rights and Legal Rights. This entitlement relates to your moveable estate – i.e. any assets that do not include buildings or land, such as savings. In English law, there is no automatic entitlement for spouses and children. Family members can raise a claim against the estate for financial provision, however, it will be up to the court to decide what is fair in these circumstances.
Additionally, there are variations when it comes to witnessing and signing Wills in Scotland and England. While two witnesses are required and just the last page of the Will is signed in England, Scotland only requires one witness, but every page of the Will must be signed.
If there is no Will, or if none of the beneficiaries survive the person who died, the law in Scotland and England also differs.
Will Scots or English law apply in respect of my estate?
This will depend on the individual assets – buildings and land in Scotland are dealt with under Scots law, while those in England are dealt with under English law. Your moveable estate, such as money or investments, is dealt with under the law of your 'domicile'. This is typically the country in which you are living on the date of your death. If there is any uncertainty, our qualified private client solicitors [LINK] can advise you on how the law will apply.
I made my Will in England, but now live in Scotland – do I need to write a new Will?
If your Will is relatively straightforward, it may also be valid in Scotland. Despite the signing rules differing between these jurisdictions, if it was correctly signed in England, it will be treated as valid in Scotland. If you have moved to Scotland, it is always a good idea to review your Will and consider any modifications that may need to be made. This is particularly advisable if there have been any significant life changes, such as a marriage, divorce or the birth of children or grandchildren. Our professional solicitors at Masson Cairns can review your Will and determine whether it is affected as a result of moving countries.
Do I need two Wills if I have assets in England?
This will depend on your personal circumstances. If you own buildings or land in England and now live in Scotland, it may be beneficial to retain your English Will to deal with English property and draft a Scottish Will to deal with Scottish assets. Our expert lawyers can advise you if there are any potential issues and what the best course of action is for you.