Intestate Craig and Incensed Donna. How not making a Will can lead to a costly injustice

 No Will, No Justice?

David C Murray

By David C Murray
Senior Partner at Gebbie & Wilson

In the second of three articles, David continues the sad tale of intestate Craig and incensed Donna

In the first of these articles, I compared not making my Will with not submitting my Tax Return on time. I commented that at least the Taxman tells me both his deadline and the penalties for missing it. With regard to not making a Will, the Grim Reaper tells me neither. To illustrate the consequences of this, I started to tell you the tale of Craig and Donna.

Craig and Donna:

 The story so far

  • Craig, 33, a GP and his wife Donna, 30, a teacher, as yet have no children.
  • Their home was purchased by Craig from an inheritance from his parents. It’s now worth £200,000.
  • With no mortgage, Craig has been able to save into ISAs, worth £209,000 at the last count.
  • Apart from Donna, Craig’s only relative is his sister, Janice, 51, who emigrated to Canada when Craig was in his early teens and with whom he exchanges Christmas cards and the very occasional phone call.
  • Tragically, out of nowhere, Craig suffers a massive stroke and dies instantly.

Donna has sought my help in winding up Craig’s estate. Because Craig did not leave a Will, I’ve had to petition the Court to have Donna appointed as his Executor and have also had to obtain insurance cover against the possibility of a Will turning up at a later date.  That has taken about 3 weeks and has cost Craig’s estate some £1,500 – a delay and a cost which would have been avoided altogether if only Craig had made a Will.


But there’s worse news for Donna – and I have to break it to her. The Succession (Scotland) Act 1964, which specifies how Craig’s intestate estate requires to be distributed, provides that Donna is entitled to:-

  • The house up to a value of, currently, £473,000. Craig’s house is valued at £200,000 – so that’s fine.
  • Household furniture up to a value of £29,000 – again fine – it was owned by the couple jointly and Craig’s share is worth less than £29,000.
  • Cash and other investments up to a value of £89,000.

The above constitute Donna’s “Prior Rights”, as Craig’s surviving spouse. But Craig had £209,000 in ISAs and Donna’s Prior Rights cover only £89,000 of this – so what happens to the other £120,000?  Well, in addition to Prior Rights, Donna has “Legal Rights” to half of Craig’s remaining investments- so she gets a total of £149.000 (£89,000 Prior Rights and £60,000 Legal Rights).  OK– but what about the other half of the £120,000, does Donna not get that too?  No, that’s the bad news for Donna … remember Janice, Craig’s distant sister?  Well, she gets that £60,000!

Donna ignores my plea of “Don’t shoot the messenger”. I take cover.

In the next Edition of strathavenechoes Donna has an admission to make – which changes everything.

For advice or more information on this topic – or to make that Will writing appointment – you can call me on: 01357 520082

Email me at:

Or simply come in to Gebbie & Wilson in the Common Green.