Scotland’s cohabitation laws are in urgent need of reform as they do not support those going through the grieving process of a cohabitant’s death, according to the Law Society of Scotland.
Under current legislation, a surviving cohabitant can only make an application to the court where there is no will following the death of their cohabitant. When a cohabitant dies, the surviving cohabitant has just six months from the date of death to make a court application, and the court is under no obligation to accept applications out with these time-sensitive rights.
This has been criticised by member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Trusts and Succession Law Sub-Committee, Mr Kerrigan, who explained that during these six months “an individual is likely to be grieving and struggling to deal with practical matters following the death of a partner.”
The report also comments on the length of time to raise an action compared with other areas of the law, noting that personal injury actions and negligence actions are afforded more time (three and five years respectively).
Following research that revealed 76 per cent of solicitors found the time limits to be a ‘problematic’ area of the law, the Law Society proposed an extension of up to one year from the date of a cohabitants’ death. Should the confirmation be obtained for the deceased’s estate after this period has passed, the Law Society suggests up to six months from the date of confirmation - “under either circumstance, it should also be open to the court to allow the late lodging of an application.”
You can read the full report here.
It is crucial for those in cohabitating couples to know their legal rights should their partner die. If you need legal assistance following the death of a cohabitant and wish to make a claim, get in contact with our specialist solicitors today via the online enquiry form.