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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

02 DEC 2015

Land reform, inheritance rights and unintended consequences [2015] CFLQ 403

Land reform, inheritance rights and unintended consequences [2015] CFLQ 403

Keywords: Succession – Inheritance – Scotland – Children's rights – Public attitudes – Family law – Housing market

The Scottish government is currently consulting on a radical programme of reform of succession law. This article demonstrates that the reforms are part of the government’s land reform strategy, aiming to make Scotland fairer and to treat children equally by ending the distinction between different types of property in an estate. However, the authors show that the proposals will bring about unintended consequences and in the vast majority of cases will result in the children of a parent who is married at the time of death inheriting nothing. It is argued that inheritance law should concern itself mainly with ordinary families of average wealth rather than being distorted by the uncertainties of the housing market. The reforms are contextualised with reference to research studies examining how modern families operate in terms of rights and obligations, and the results of a recent qualitative study of Scottish public attitudes to inheritance are introduced.

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