1. ITV Report

Inheritance law reforms considered by ministers

The Scottish Government is considering changes to inheritance rules Photo: Joe Giddens/PA

Ministers are considering a shake-up of inheritance rules to reflect changes in society, such as fewer marriages and an increase in step-families.

A consultation has been launched asking for the public’s view on how the law can be made fairer when it comes to dividing an estate on someone’s death.

It asks what rights cohabitants should have and whether step-children should have the same inheritance rights as biological or adopted children.

Opinions are also being sought on whether anyone convicted of murder should be removed as executor for their victim’s will.

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Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said: “The make-up of families in Scotland is vastly different today than it was when these laws were passed over half a century ago, including significantly more families made up of cohabiting couples and an increased number of step-families.

“This issue affects all of us and we want our reforms to reflect the views of 21st-century Scotland.

“The law should be fair and representative so it is important we hear from people of all ages and backgrounds.”

The latest census data from 2011 showed 16% of families in Scotland were cohabiting couples.

It recorded 8% of married couple families and 29% of cohabiting couple families were step-families.

Gordon Wyllie, of the Law Society of Scotland’s Trusts and Succession Law sub-committee, said: “It is important that the law reflects the needs of modern society, and we strongly encourage reform in areas where the law has struggled to keep up with societal and technological changes.

“We believe that changes to inheritance rules are required and we look forward to engaging with the government on this issue.”