Most people know that there are a number of differences between the Law of England (and Wales) in comparison to the Law of Scotland. We are often asked by people who have made a Will in England and now live in Scotland; ‘is my English Will still valid in Scotland?’ The simple answer is generally ‘Yes’. There is no reason why a Will which is valid in England will not also be valid in Scotland. However, on your death, it may need validated by a solicitor practising in the country where it was completed. When considering the validity of your Will in a different country there are a few things to consider:
Your domicile is generally where your permanent residence is. Your domicile on the date of your death is the deciding factor for which country’s Law is used when distributing your Estate. If you are domiciled in Scotland, your entire Estate will be dealt with according to the laws of Scotland.
If we consider the example of an English Will in Scotland; the Will can be followed so far as the Law of Scotland permits. What are the differences?
There are a number of differences in the Law between Scotland and England when considering Wills and Executries but the main one is the concepts of Prior Rights and Legal Rights which only exist in Scotland. Prior Rights give certain priorities to a spouse where the deceased had no Will and Legal Rights provide some protection for a deceased’s spouse and/or children so that they may not be disinherited. Someone with an English Will who is now lives in Scotland may not have considered this when their English Will was created.
Once again, in the example of an English Will in Scotland; a person might have decided to leave no money to their children but if they die whilst domiciled in Scotland their children will be able to make a claim of Legal Rights and receive some of the Estate, against their parent’s wishes.
Just because a Will is valid does not mean that it shouldn’t be reviewed and changed to reflect your most recent circumstances. If you are unsure regarding any aspect of your Will, or don’t have one, you should seek the guidance of a Solicitor.
We would always advise that you review your Will on an annual basis to ensure that it still reflects your wishes. You should also review your Will after any big life changes such as; the purchase of a new property, the birth of a child or indeed, moving from England to Scotland!
For any further information regarding Wills, please do not hesitate to contact our Team.