If parents leave you out of their will it can be very distressing. If they tell you that is their intention before they die, that can be even more upsetting. However in England and Wales there is no right for children to challenge the will until the parent dies. In a recent article in the Sunday Times there were several cases of disinherited daughters who believed that they had been cut out of their fathers’ wills while sons had benefited. However, Vardags receives many queries of this nature from men too, so we do not believe this to be a sexist trend.
In Scotland the government is planning to change the law on succession so that all assets are left equally between children. At present, Scottish law allows close relatives inheritance rights only to ’moveable’ assets such as cash and shares, but not to immoveable assets, that is, land and buildings. The new law will seek to limit unfairness between siblings, and indeed between the landowning and non-landowning class in Scotland.
This could affect landowners, as their right to plan a well-ordered succession of a family-run enterprise, such as a shooting or fishing estate, is stifled. Indeed if the estate is not well managed because of arguments between siblings, this will affect not just the family, but those employed on the estates. This Jacobite swing to a form of the Napoleonic code could lead to the gradual disintegration of private property into smaller units, ultimately making them commercially unworkable.
Proponents of reform argue that keeping the current law will force businesses to be more commercial in their outlook. However, there may not be the current co-operation between landowners, as they decide how best to mange the land, but one balanced by free market economics.
Landowners have for a long time structured their estates through companies and trusts, so that they control their inheritance to avoid any potential hazards such as creditors or divorce. This proposed reform should not affect those who are proactive in putting succession plans in place before they die.
Vardags Limited is a limited company trading as Vardags, Company No 7199468, registered in England and Wales, having its registered office at 10 Old Bailey, London EC4M 7NG. Vardags is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 535955). The term “Director” is used to refer to a director of Vardags Limited or to a non-legally qualified employee or consultant of Vardags Limited with equivalent standing; the term “Director” does not necessarily imply that the relevant individual is a director of Vardags Limited. The term “Partner” is used to refer to a legally qualified director of Vardags Limited or a legally qualified employee or consultant of Vardags Limited with equivalent standing; the title “Partner” does not necessarily imply that the relevant individual is a director of Vardags Limited and does not imply that they are a partner in the legalsense. Our Partners are not liable for the debts, liabilities or obligations of Vardags Limited. A list of the directors of Vardags Limited and a list of the names of those using the title of “Director” or “Partner” together with their official status available for inspection at Vardags’ registered office. VAT number: 99 001 7230.