Succession report from Scottish Law Commission: mistresses to be cut in?

The Scottish Law Commission published its long-awaited Report on the Law of Succession on 14 April 2009.

Key recommendations are (1) a basic entitlement for a surviving spouse or civil partner to inherit the whole estate if a person dies intestate (up to a limit of value to be fixed by the Scottish Parliament); (2) an ability to disinherit the surviving spouse or civil partner by will, although the survivor will be entitled to 25% of what they would have got had the deceased died intestate; (3) similar provisions in relation to surviving children; OR, as an alternative model, an entitlement for dependent children only to a capital sum calculated by reference to their maintenance needs; (4) cohabitants to get a percentage based on what they would have got if they were a surviving spouse or civil partner, but the calculation to depend on the length and quality of the cohabitant’s relationship with the deceased.

The Scotsman for 15 April chose to headline (4) as “Mistresses should get share of dead lovers’ estates, says Law Commission”, because the cohabitant has a claim even if there is a surviving spouse as well.  On the other hand, wasn’t a continuing claim for a surviving but non-cohabiting spouse a bit unfair on the surviving cohabitant, asked a clearly anxious BBC presenter in a radio interview with Law Commissioner Joe Thomson that Scots Law News happened to catch while on the road on 14 April?  “If they (the married couple) don’t like each other, they should just get divorced,” replied Professor Thomson in his inimitable style.  Na, na, there’s nae nonsense with the Professor.