Wright Johnston and Mackenzie Solicitors

Legal Rights

Legal rights are a type of forced heirship in Scotland, entitling certain parties to a share of an estate notwithstanding what a Will says. However, it is not always clear cut.

Whilst people have freedom to leave their estates as they wish within their Will, there is an overriding concept known as legal rights, which gives certain parties an entitlement regardless.

Generally speaking, the parties who are entitled to legal rights are:

  • Any spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • Any child of the deceased
  • Any grandchild of the deceased if their parent died first

The entitlement is to a share of the estate’s net “moveable property”. Broadly, this is everything excluding land and buildings, and after certain debts and expenses are deducted.

Whilst it is seemingly straightforward in concept, legal rights disputes are one of the most common as the law is developed through court cases.

Our team includes with SJ Macdonald, author of “A Practical Guide to Legal Rights in Scotland”, and we are expertly placed to assist with these matters.

Some of the common issues we assist clients with (whether it is the executors or claimants) can include:

  • Assisting/negotiating the valuation to be used for assets in the calculation
  • Advising on whether gifts or trust assets should form part of the calculation
  • Helping seek the correct information from Executors and raising the right questions
  • Advising on complex assets like farming estates or private companies and whether land and buildings could be brought within the calculation
  • Helping where beneficiaries have lost capacity and their entitlement needs considered

We use all matters of conflict resolution whether it is negotiation, mediation, or the ultimate resort to court where necessary, as appropriate to seek resolution.