A recent ruling in the Court of Appeal in England and Wales highlights that although you can leave your money to whom you like there are some limitations, wherever you live in the UK.
England, Scotland and Wales, like the United States, have a tradition of "testamentary freedom" - the idea being that you can, in theory leave your wealth to whoever you like.
Countries like France, Spain and the Republic of Ireland, by contrast, have fixed heirship shares.
However in Scotland, children and spouses may have "legal rights" to a portion of the deceased's estate.
A surviving spouse, or civil partner and children are entitled to part of the deceased person's moveable estate. In Scots law, heritable property means land and buildings, while moveable estate includes such things as money, shares, cars, furniture and jewellery.
The surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to one-third of the deceased's moveable estate if the deceased left children or descendants of children, or to one-half of it if the deceased left no such children or descendants.
In England and Wales the Inheritance Act of 1975 section 2 sets out that close relatives may apply to a court for a variation to a will ‘such as to make reasonable financial provision for the applicant’.
The bar is set high in that an applicant must show real need or that they were led to believe that they were to receive an inheritance and acted on that belief.
A professionally drawn up Will covers all these eventualities and must show that the needs of close family were considered fully.
For advice in this matter please get in touch.