Thursday, 21 January 2010

Gibson welcomes law review

News release
Immediate release

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed news that consultation on the laws of succession is to be started.

Mr Gibson received the assurance from Communities safety Minister Fergus Ewing during question in the Scottish Parliament.

The minister responded that proposed changes would be put to Parliament following the consultation however said that that was not likely to happen until after the 2011 Scottish Elections.

Mr Gibson who had introduced a Members Bill on the issue in 2006 said that changes are needed to the law which dates back to the 1960s.

In his Bill Mr Gibson proposed amending the existing law to remove any distinctions between heritable and moveable property, and to equalise the rights of inheritance so that the spouse, civil partners, co-habitees and heirs can succeed to heritable property in the same manner as to moveable property.

At the moment when a person dies intestate (without a will) any land or heritable property (see below) is passed to the eldest child regardless of how many children are in the family or the marital status of the deceased. Mr Gibson wants that changed so that

• Where a person dies intestate survived by a spouse, but no children, the spouse should inherit the whole of the estate

• If the deceased had no spouse, but left children, then the children should wholly inherit

* If the deceased left a spouse and children, than his estate should be split in an agreed proportion between the two groups

• If legal shares are to be paid out on agricultural property, provisions could be made for them to be paid out over no more than 10 years

He said changes along those lines would make practical uses to areas such as farming and other land ownership …

"The announcement from the Minister is very welcome. It shows that the SNP Government sees the importance making this law fit for purpose in the 21st century. This consultation will be a good exercise in fleshing out arguments and to make change that is needed."

"The law must to be fairer to families and therefore to society in general. I look forward to the consultation and the changes that will come form it."


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