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Backlog concern

Bereaved families face being locked out of estates

James MacKinnon: backlog

Bereaved families face being locked out of their relatives’ estate for months as Coronavirus clogs up Scotland’s legal system, according to a Scottish law firm.

With only essential matters being heard in Scottish courts at present, confirmation applications to gather and distribute assets of those who have died have ground to a halt.

Law firm Aberdein Considine has warned that these delays – coupled with rising deaths due to Covid-19 – could swamp Sheriff Courts when they re-open fully.

Without confirmation being granted by a Sheriff, estates cannot be wound up and assets cannot be distributed to beneficiaries.

James MacKinnon, a partner at Aberdein Considine, believes the backlog of applications will be “substantial”.

Aberdein Considine is urging families to proceed with estate administration to ensure that their case is among the first to be heard when Scotland’s sheriffs return to the bench in meaningful numbers.

Mr MacKinnon added: “A large part of the legal work around executory administration can still go-ahead, despite the current restrictions.

“This include things like gathering a comprehensive inventory of all assets, including property, cash accounts, shareholdings, land, personal items of value, pensions, insurance policies, as well as details of any debts.

“And we understand that confirmation cases will be heard in the order that they are filed, once courts re-open to non-essential business.

“This means that the earlier a confirmation application is submitted, the more likely it is to be granted in a reasonable timeframe.”

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