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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12076
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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Can you advise me what the rights of a widow are if her husband

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Can you advise me what the rights of a widow are if her husband died intestate whilst owning nothing but the shares in a French company which owned a property they had both hoped to retire to? He was resident in Scotland at the time of his death, had less than £200 pounds in the bank, and rented a property, so his widow paid for his funeral. He leaves two children from his first marriage in England (their whereabouts are unknown because they fell out some time ago) and 2 children from his second marriage, who he was very close to. On paper, the share value was approx 40,000 Euros at the time of his death, but the property cannot be sold because there is a third shareholder in residence. I’m also not sure if it’s today’s exchange rate, or the exchange rate on the date of his death which would ascertain the value of his estate and how probate could be obtained. I have tried to understand the information on, but I’m confused regarding the spouse being able to claim a third of the moveable assets and the children being able to claim a third. Who gets the other third? I’m also confused by the statement ‘The surviving spouse or civil partner is also entitled to the first £42,000 out of the estate if the deceased left children or descendants of children. Am I right in saying his ‘Estate’ includes things such as shares abroad and the widow can inherit all of them?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your question.
In this instance the widow inherits the whole of the moveable property if the value at the date of death was less than £50000. The Scottish government website is out of date in this connection. The £42000 stated there increased to £50000 some time ago.
If the estate is more than this, the widow gets a further third of the remainder and the children get the rest.
As he died in Scotland the estate would be wound up in Scotland, the widow would apply to the sheriff court to be appointed executor and then could apply for Confirmation (Scottish name for probate) at the court.
I hope this helps. Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your fast and efficient answer. Unfortunately his death was prior to Feb 2012 (when I think the threshold was lifted to £50,000) so still need to know if the exchange rate at the time of death is relevant and if it would still be possible to apply for confirmation as a 'small' estate.

This is not a small estate unless the value at death was £30000 or less.
To establish the value you have to take the sterling exchange rate at the date of death. And you are right, the "old" prior rights rate of £42000 would apply.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Again, my thanks for your fast and efficient reply. The time of death was September 2009, so I'm still confused by the £36,000 stated on line because you state £42,000 being the amount prior to the £50,000 allowance. Can you please confirm when the £42,000 threshold came into effect. Knowing this will complete all my questions - Thank you!

They are two different things.
The £36000 is the small estate threshold.
The £42000 is the cash limit on widow's prior rights.
These figures were from June 2005 to 31 January 2012.
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