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‘Killer’ Loophole Closed – The Effect of The Trust and Succession (Scotland) Bill

 Killer Loophole Closed The Effect of The Trust and Succession Scotland Bill

Introduction

In a bid to modernise the law on Trusts, Succession and Executors, MSPs unanimously voted to the pass the Trust and Succession (Scotland) Bill on 20th December which prevents killers from acting as an executor in their victim’s estate.  

The Case that Inspired Change

In 2014, Carol Taggart was tragically murdered by her son. Carol had made her son executor and bequeathed most of her estate to him. While he was unable to benefit from the estate as a result of the conviction, a loophole in the law meant that he remained in charge of her Estate as executor.

Carol’s daughter, determined to change this law, campaigned tirelessly with their petition being signed by over 62,000 people.

The effect of the Bill

It was in early 2023 that the bill was introduced to Parliament by the Scottish Government and passed in December 2023. It is expected to receive royal assent early this year.

The reform will allow a Court to remove someone convicted of murder or culpable homicide from a previously nominated role of executor. The Courts will have discretion to apply the law in individual cases and they will be able to consider convictions that pre-date the Act coming into force.

The reform has been widely praised, with Victims and Community Safety Minister Siobhan Brown stating:

‘The change will make it possible to prevent what has happened in the past from happening in the future’

Overhaul of Trust Law

Not only will this loophole be removed but this Bill also aims to modernise other historic laws regulating the operation of trusts. Some notable changes include:

  • Trustees can now be removed by a majority consensus amongst co-trustees when they are incapable or if they have committed a dishonest offence, imprisoned for an offence, if they are in contempt of court or if they have failed to pay a fine.
  • Trustees can now also be removed by a decision of all beneficiaries of a trust. This can only occur when the beneficiaries have absolute title to the trust property, they have reached 18 years of age and have capacity.
  • The ranking of relationships to the deceased to benefit from the free estate in intestacy has been changed. The surviving spouse or civil partner of the deceased will now rank second, behind only children and issue of the deceased. The effect of this is that if a person dies without children surviving them, the surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit the whole estate.

We understand that staying updated with legal developments can be overwhelming, which is why our Private Client team is committed to keeping you informed about any updates related to the introduction of the Trust and Succession (Scotland) Bill. We want to ensure that you feel supported and informed throughout this process. If you have any questions or concerns about how this reform will affect you, please get in touch with us today on 0141 221 1919 We are here to offer guidance, listen to your concerns, and provide any assistance you may need every step of the way.

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