What to do after a death in Scotland ... practical advice for times of bereavement: 9th Edition

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18. WHERE THE PERSON DID NOT LEAVE A WILL

If someone dies and does not leave a will, his or her estate (property) is known as an "intestate estate". The law sets out how intestate estates should be divided. Someone who represents the person who died and deals with his or her estate is called an "executor". You can find out more about the role of an executor in section 11.

The executor first has to pay debts and meet certain liabilities from the dead person's estate. After that, the executor can distribute the estate to the beneficiaries (the people who will benefit from the estate).

Certain beneficiaries have rights to claim from a dead person's estate. These are called "prior rights" and "legal rights". After prior rights and legal rights have been satisfied, the executor must distribute the rest of the estate in accordance with the law.