With effect from 1 February 2011, the value of a house which a surviving spouse or civil partner may claim from his or her deceased spouse's/partner's intestate estate has been increased from £300,000 to £473,000.
This entitlement forms part of what is known as "prior rights", which also include increased figures for:
the right to receive household furniture up to a value of £29,000; and the right to a cash sum of up to £89,000, or £50,000 where the deceased leaves surviving children. The Succession (Scotland) Act 1964 originally intended to ensure that, in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, a surviving spouse inherits the family home.
The limit was last set in 2005 and the Scottish Government decided that it was time to increase the maximum amounts which can be claimed, out of concern that the previous limit was insufficient to cover increasing property values.
Concerns have, however, been raised as to the impact of the change on any children of the deceased, as an increase in the amount available to the surviving spouse/civil partner will result in a corresponding reduction in the value available to any children.
While in the majority of cases this may not be problematic, where the deceased had children from a previous...