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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree February 2018 > A beginner’s guide to Scottish inheritance

A beginner’s guide to Scottish inheritance

In the first of a two-part series, genealogist Chris Paton takes an indepth look at the records documenting inheritance in Scotland…

UNDERSTANDING LAW FOR FAMILY HISTORIANS

There are many areas found within Scottish genealogy research where the law of the land is very different to that which exists elsewhere in the United Kingdom. One of the most important of these involves the procedures surrounding inheritance, which evolved very separately through the feudal system under which Scotland operated for centuries. This issue and next, I will take a look at how a deceased person’s estate was historically conveyed to others through the processes dictated by Scots Law.

A person’s estate in Scotland could be divided into two main categories:

• Moveable estate was that which could not be pinned down, such as the money that a person had in a bank account, items of clothing, a favourite timepiece, perhaps even a favoured painting, but which also included intellectual property rights.

• Heritable property, by contrast, was comprised of the assets that literally could not move, such as the land and buildings that a person owned, but which could also comprise of some moveable items that were necessary components for such properties to work, such as a plough for a farm (these were known as ‘heirship moveables’).

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