Under Scots Law, as per the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964, Legal Rights are an entitlement available to children of the deceased and only applies if the deceased died domiciled in Scotland. It does not matter if they die with a Will (testate) or without a Will (intestate), the children are entitled to a share of the deceased's worldwide net moveable estate for moral and social reasons.
Legal Rights is a form of forced inheritance or a debt on the estate and must be paid after any prior rights ( if there is no Will and a spouse or civil partner is left behind) Prior Rights rank above all other entitlements in an estate, including the rights of children.
Legal Rights cannot be claimed alongside any entitlement under the Will. The option is to forego the provision in the Will and claim legal rights or take your entitlement under the Will – you cannot have both. Claims can be made for 20 years following death.
The moveable estate is valued as at date of death. The amount due is reduced by deduction of: Funeral expenses, Moveable debts due by the deceased as at his or her date of death (but excluding what are regarded as heritable debts — for example a mortgage) Inheritance Tax, Legal expenses in relation to the winding up of the estate up to the point of obtaining confirmation (the Scottish equivalent of probate) and realising the moveable estate.
Children are entitled to 1/3 of the moveable estate (cash, shares, cars, jewellery etc.) not the heritable estate land and property and divided equally between children and 1/2 if there is no surviving spouse or civil partner. If there is more than one child and lifetime gifts to the one or more of the children have been paid out by the deceased, these gifts are notionally added back to the net moveable estate, when Legal Rights claims are calculated and divided which is a process known as collation. This is to ensure equal distribution among children. Legal Rights claims can be significant, depending on the value of the estate, and at times they can be complex to calculate.
This is why you need expert legal advice to ensure you make a early claim to the executor of the estate to ensure the executor does not dispose of the estate without your interest being fully protected. All executors have an express duty to keep all Beneficiaries of an estate reasonably informed during the administration of the estate but there is no legal obligation to disclose the Will until confirmation is granted.