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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Wills property limit to be raised
Plans are aimed at easing problems if a will has not been made
The Scottish Executive has put forward measures aimed at curbing problems caused for couples when a partner dies without leaving a will.

Changes are intended to make it easier for people to stay in their homes.

If a homeowner dies without making a will their spouse may have to sell the family home if it is worth more than 130,000.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said the limit would be raised in June to 300,000.

The sum had not been changed since 1999 and the increase is aimed at taking into account the rise in house prices since then.

Ms Jamieson also announced moves to boost the number of people able to administer a small estate without having to use a solicitor.

Both these changes will benefit those who are sometimes vulnerable members of our society
Cathy Jamieson
Justice Minister

Old people's campaigner Elizabeth Duncan said: "Help the Aged applaud the executive for their proposed amendments to the current legislation which will offer protection to a greater number of older people in Scotland."

Ms Jamieson added: ""These small but much needed changes will offer protection to older people in Scotland who have lost a loved one and are left to deal with the consequences when no will has been made.

"The increase in limits means that most people will be able to stay in the family home they built up with their partner.

Small estates

"The increase for small estates will mean a greater number of estates will be able to be finalised without the need for extra legal expenses.

"Both these changes will benefit those who are sometimes vulnerable members of our society and at a time when that vulnerability is exacerbated by grief."

Bruce Ritchie, the Law Society of Scotland's director of professional practice, welcomed the reforms.

He said: "What is good is that they reflect the rise in house prices and we're delighted that the Scottish Executive consulted us, listened to our advice and acted on it.

"It's going to be better for people in Scotland - it is real progress."

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