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Sometimes, it may be necessary to change a will after death and reallocate assets or property left to someone (the beneficiary). This is possible as long as any beneficiaries who will end up worse off agree to the changes.

What is a deed of variation?

A deed of variation is a document which allows one or more of the beneficiaries of an estate to change their entitlement under the deceased’s will (if there is one), or under the intestacy rules (where there is no valid will).

Where this document is completed within two years of the date of death and the correct formalities are followed, the change is treated as if it had been made by the deceased and ‘read back’ into the will for inheritance tax and capital gains tax purposes.

There are many reasons why a deed of variation could be useful, for example:

  • To save inheritance tax on the deceased’s estate, or to allow a beneficiary to do their inheritance tax planning
  • To make provision for individuals and charities who do not benefit under the intestacy rules, or have been left out of the deceased’s will.

How can our deed of variation solicitors help?

We can advise on:

  • Whether modifying the will is appropriate in your circumstances;
  • The tax and other consequences of altering the estate’s distribution;
  • The formalities required.
  • Our solicitors can also draft the deed of variation, ensuring that it is signed and witnessed correctly.

What is the process for a deed of variation?

  • Meet with one of our team to discuss your requirements, concerns and objectives.
  • Decide how you would like to proceed.
  • Consider the advice and draft we prepare for you.
  • If you are happy to proceed, arrange for the deed of variation to be signed and witnessed.

How long does a deed of variation take?

It usually takes around 2-4 weeks to prepare the deed, provided all of the parties agree. If any of the beneficiaries affected are minors or do not have capacity, an application to the court will be needed, which will add to this timeframe.

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