6 What are the consequences of death?

England/Wales

In England and Wales there is freedom of testation and there are no reserved/mandatory portions for surviving spouses.

In case of intestacy, the spouse will inherit according to section 46 Administration of Estates Act 1925. The exact claim depends on whether the deceased leaves children ('issue') and/or a parent, a brother or sister of the whole blood, or issue of a brother or sister of the whole blood.

Irrespective of whether there is a will or not, the surviving spouse can make a claim against the estate of the deceased for such financial provision as determined by the court under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Scotland

On intestacy the surviving spouse has fixed prior rights to the house, the furniture and a sum of money (sections 8 and 9 Succession (Scotland) Act 1964).

If these rights do not exhaust the estate the surviving spouse also has a right to a third of the remaining movable property (if there are surviving issue) or a half (if there are no surviving issue). The surviving spouse will take the remainder of the intestate estate if the deceased is not survived by issue, parents or siblings (see section 2 Succession (Scotland) Act 1964).

On testacy the surviving spouse is very often left the whole estate. In theory the surviving issue have a right to a third of the movable property of the deceased (legitim) but the issue often renounce this right. If the will passes over the surviving spouse he or she can claim a third of the movable property, if there are surviving issue, or a half, if there are no surviving issue.