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26/01/18

John Goodchild features in The Financial Times commenting on the law relating to hereditary peerages

John Goodchild, partner and Head of Private Wealth writes in Your Money in The Financial Times commenting on the esoteric law of primogeniture.

The law of male primogeniture governs the devolution of hereditary peerages and, so, they currently pass exclusively down the male side of the family. However, recent developments in Parliament suggest that the law may change in the near future to allow for the succession to a title of the firstborn child regardless of gender.  The property in which a hereditary peer is interested passes according to the documents that govern them.  If property is owned by the peer personally it will pass according to his will.   If it is governed by a trust or settlement it will pass according to that and in these circumstances the trustees may have powers to determine the devolution of the assets.  Sometimes property is held in a settlement and passes “in tail male”.  In those circumstances it would pass according to male primogeniture, and thus in the same way as a title (to a male heir only). However, it is possible for the current beneficiary to “bar the entail” which results in the current beneficiary becoming the outright owner of the assets and enables him to pass them on as he wishes