Posted on 13th April 2011

Female Inheritance Breaks out of the Downton Abbey Age

Andrew Way, Partner at Latimer HinksLatimer Hinks Solicitors, one of Darlington and County Durhams longest established law firms, says new research into inheritance trends are a "breakthrough for sensible thinking.

According to the survey, published in Country Life magazine, fewer than one in five people felt the centuries old succession rule of "primogeniture, which places male descendants ahead of females, was important.

Instead, the overwhelming current feeling shown by the survey is that landowners felt the suitability of an individual to run an estate was more important than age or sex.

Almost 60% of major landowners surveyed were prepared to leave estates to their daughters, with 42% saying they would provide a legal mechanism for all of their daughters to inherit their estate.

Andrew Way, Partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors, said: "We no longer live in the era of Downton Abbey, or even prior to that, when primogeniture was the accepted reality of inheritance. This is a way of thinking and acting which was brought into England by the Normans, but the surveys results reflect a more modern world and a breakthrough for sensible thinking.

"It is far from the case in most situations that the eldest male is the most suitable person to inherit an estate, whether that be due to ability or willingness.

"For some families, where land has been passed down via the male line from generation to generation for centuries, a change to female inheritance might be very difficult to envisage, let alone put into action. However, the 21st Century is clearly dealing a more even hand to women and people are more ready to accept that women are equally capable as men.

"A qualified solicitor, experienced in the issues which surround succession planning, will be able to help advise on the best courses of action and how to ensure matters of inheritance are handled with care and support.

Latimer Hinks Solicitors advises upon a wide range of succession planning issues, with lawyers experienced in dealing with country land and business ownership and the intricacies which can often be involved.