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Wills

This page looks at your rights if the person who owned the home you live in left a will when they died. It explains how to find out what the will says and what this can mean for you. It also looks at what your situation may be if they didn't leave a will. You will need a solicitor to help you work out what you're entitled to.

How will I know whether or not there is a will?

The person who died might have told you that they have left a will and where it is kept.

If they didn't say anything to you about it, that doesn't mean that they didn't leave a will. Leaving a will is a very personal thing and sometimes people want to keep it to themselves and don't even tell the people they love about it.

It's also possible to change your will at any time before you die. So, if the person who has just died told you what was in their will, they could have changed their mind about this.

Just because you don't know whether or not the person who died left a will, or what it might say, doesn't mean there isn't one. If you think the person who died had a solicitor, you should try to find out the name and address of the solicitor and phone them up. Solicitors keep records of the wills they have made for people and can easily trace whether or not they hold a will.

If you don't know where to start, you can ask a solicitor of your own choice to put an advert in a legal magazine to find out if any other solicitor in Scotland knows anything about the will. The solicitor you speak to will be able to tell you more about this.

If the person who died did leave a will, what can it tell me?

If the person who died left a will, this will tell you whether or not their share of the house has been left to you.

If you are married to, or in a civil partnership with, the person who died but the house has not been left to you in the will, you might be able to argue that you are entitled to a share of it because you have prior rights under the law.

If you are not married to or in a civil partnership with the person who died and the house has not been left to you in the will, you have no right to the house and, unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about it. If you're in this situation, you will probably have to find somewhere else to live.

The will may also tell you who the 'executors' of the person who died are. If you were close to the person who died, it is possible that you might be named as an executor in their will. (An executor is a person appointed to carry out the instructions in a will.)

The Scottish Government has published a guide that tells you some other things that might be in a will.

What happens if the person who died didn't leave a will?

If it turns out that the person who died didn't leave a will, this is called 'intestacy'. All that this means is that the person who has just died didn't leave any instructions saying who he or she wants to leave everything to when they pass away. If this happens, there are legal rules that give certain relatives of the person who has died (for example their husband, wife or child) the right to inherit some property or personal belongings.

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This content applies to Scotland only.
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