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Estate planning for modern families

03 May 2022 Written by Davidson Shirley Solicitors Category: Wills & Estates

Over the years, the traditional family structure has changed quite significantly. Modern families come in all shapes and sizes. They may include children from previous relationships, cohabitating partners, same-sex couples and adopted children. 

Until the law catches up with the modern way of living, there are things you can do to ensure your family will be looked after in the future. At Davidson & Shirley, we believe that however your family is made up, comprehensive estate planning is important. It will ensure that your estate passes to your loved ones when you pass away. 

Everyone has an estate made up of possessions and money they have acquired during their lifetime. No matter how extensive or modest your estate may be, we can give you reliable legal advice on the different ways it can be protected.

Cohabitating couples

Unmarried partners have no automatic rights to inherit in Scots law, which means that if you do not provide for your partner in your Will, they will have to raise a court action to claim any part of your estate. This can be expensive and time-consuming, and ultimately, it will be the court that decides what your partner is entitled to from your estate. For these reasons, you must consider putting a Will in place, which specifies exactly what you want your partner to inherit from your estate after you pass away. 

New relationships

If you have children from a previous relationship and have entered into a new relationship, you should consider making a Will. A well-drafted Will can ensure both your children and your new partner are provided for should you pass away. 

Updating your Will

If you already have a Will that you made during a previous marriage or relationship, you should update it to reflect your new circumstances. A Will that entitles your ex-partner to inherit your estate will still be valid, even if you are no longer together. In order for your current partner to inherit any of your estate, your Will must be updated to include their name.


If you have children, it is never too early to start planning for their future. You may even want to think about appointing a legal guardian. This person will be responsible for taking care of your children in the event of your and your partner's untimely death. Although this may be upsetting to think about, it means your children will be left in the care of someone you trust and who will take good care of them. 

Setting up a trust

You may also want to consider creating a trust in your child’s name. This would allow you to provide for your children financially when you pass away. Our lawyers at Davidson & Shirley have vast experience in all of these areas and can help put a plan in place that suits you.

Children conceived through assisted reproduction

Although you know you are the rightful parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction treatment, the law may not always recognise you as such. Complex legal tests dictate who the legal parents of children conceived this way are. If the law does not deem you the legal parent of a child conceived through assisted reproduction treatment, that child will not have any automatic right to inherit from your estate. This means you will have to include this child in your Will specifically.


Despite 1 in 8 Scottish children being part of a stepfamily, Scots law does not give stepchildren any automatic right to inherit. Therefore, unlike biological and adopted children, stepchildren will not be automatically awarded a portion of your estate when you pass away. Accordingly, you must clearly name any stepchildren you wish to leave any portion of your estate to in your Will.

Contact Davidson & Shirley Estate Planning Solicitors in Lanark, Motherwell, Wishaw & Biggar, Scotland

If you are looking for help with estate planning, speak to a member of our team today. Ensuring that your affairs are in order, and that your estate is set to be distributed as per your wishes will help avoid disagreements among family members in the future. Our lawyers are well equipped to handle your case, regardless of what your personal circumstances may be. To arrange an initial appointment, contact us today on 01555 662576 or complete our online enquiry form.

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