Cohabitants should have the right to inherit from a deceased partner’s estate even if they have not made a will, senior Scottish lawyers have suggested.

The Faculty of Advocates has told the Scottish government it should look to change the current law by which the surviving member of a couple that live together, without entering a marriage or civil partnership, must apply to a court to ascertain their rights.

The lawyers’ recommendation came in response to a government consultancy process focused on updating the law of succession.

In a statement the Faculty said the current system was not in keeping with the modern world and caused unnecessary stress to those involved.

“Succession law is meant to be clear, straightforward and efficient. Requiring applications to the courts as a matter of course for cohabitants is undesirable,” it said.

However, the legal professionals stopped short of suggesting rights should be the same across the board.

“We do not agree with the proposals that after a certain period of time a cohabitant should have the inheritance rights of a spouse,” they commented. “That would not be in line with general expectations either of society or cohabiting couples. It would, in effect, create marriage for the purposes of succession or inheritance law.”

The Faculty suggested a one-year minimum qualifying period for cohabitation, adding that a cohabitant’s entitlement to inherit should be on condition that the deceased was not married or in a civil partnership at the time of their death.