Public attitudes to inheritance in Scotland

Sweeney, Nicole (2018) Public attitudes to inheritance in Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis seeks to provide a deeper understanding of public attitudes to inheritance in contemporary Scottish society, with particular regard to perceptions of parental obligation in an era of increased family diversity. The cornerstone of the thesis is an empirical study conducted in 2014 against the backdrop of the Scottish Law Commission’s (SLC) 2009 succession law reform proposals that would seriously curtail children’s inheritance rights.
The thesis begins by contextualising the empirical study. It explains the current law of succession as it relates to provision for adult partners and children and examines the SLC’s proposed reforms. It argues that the SLC’s proposals to further bolster the spouse’s position at the expense of the deceased’s children are not supported by public opinion. Through analysis of a range of other empirical studies it demonstrates that public opinion supports continued recognition of children in succession law, particularly in reconstituted families.
The second part of the thesis explains how the empirical study was planned and executed before detailing the methodological approach used to analyse the data. Having established the methodological framework, the thesis then discusses the key research findings, focusing primarily on the parent-child relationship. Firstly, it explores the obligations parents are considered to owe their children, addressing how these obligations can be reconciled with conceptions of testamentary freedom. Secondly, it examines whether parental duty is viewed differently when the deceased’s surviving spouse is not his children’s other parent and, thirdly, it asks what duty, if any, the deceased owes his stepchildren. While the parent-child relationship is the main focus of this thesis, the SLC also proposed reforms to the inheritance entitlements of half-siblings and these proposals are examined in the context of broader discussion on reconstituted families.
The thesis concludes by arguing that, while the SLC rightly identifies social change as a ground for law reform, its proposed reforms fail to adequately reflect social norms in the context of the parent-child relationship. This is because the proposed reforms do not correspond to the societal changes identified: whereas the SLC acknowledges the rise in the number of reconstituted families, the reforms do not adequately consider how these families can be better served by succession law. Instead, confronted with increased family diversity, the SLC opts for simplicity, privileging the spouse ahead of all others regardless of the effect this will have on children in reconstituted families.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Succession, reconstituted families, stepchildren, family obligation, parent-child relationship, law reform, duty, expectation.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
K Law > K Law (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Supervisor's Name: Reid, Dr. Dot, Mair, Professor Jane and Ferrie, Dr. Jo
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Ms. Nicole L. Sweeney
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30620
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2018 08:48
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2018 07:53
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