Can you change a will after death?

Can you change a will after death? A will sets out the deceased’s wishes in regards to how their estate should be distributed but sometimes it may be necessary or more efficient to rearrange how the estate is going to be distributed. You can do this by using a deed of Variation sometimes referred to as a deed of family arrangement.

What is a deed of variation?

A deed of Variation is document that is used by the beneficiary/beneficiaries of an Estate to alter the distribution of a person’s assets after their death.

You can use it when there is a will but you can also use one when someone passes away intestate.

Any beneficiaries whose inheritance is affected by the changes must agree.

What are the requirements for a deed of variations?

  • It must be agreed and signed by all the beneficiaries who the alteration affects.
  • The deed must be written and completed within two years of the date of death.
  • Clearly state the change to the estate and identify the person who will be benefitting from the change.
  • Contain a statement that that declares if the variation will have an effect on Inheritance tax and/or capital gains tax.
  • An application from the court for the consent of any beneficiaries who are under the age of 18.
  • If the variation means there’s more inheritance tax to pay you must send a copy to HM revenue and customs within six months.

Why would you need a deed of variation?

To include someone who has been left out of the will

For example if the will was written when the Deceased was single and did not include a long term partner, you could use a deed of variation to include them. This can also prevent claims under the Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975.

If there is a dispute over the contents of the will or a claim to the validity of the will.

If there is uncertainty about the validity of the will and the beneficiaries can come to an agreement rather than perusing an expensive court case, they can use a deed of variation to record any changes made to the distribution.

To reduce the amount of inheritance tax or capital gains tax.

If the will does not distribute the assets in the most tax effective way you can use a deed of variation to adjust this. For example it may be possible to reduce your inheritance tax liability by skipping a generation of beneficiaries. You should speak to a professional who can advise you on the most efficient way of distributing the estate and explain how these changes can affect your tax liability.

At final duties we have a specially selected panel of solicitors all of which are qualified and experienced in writing deeds of variation. For a full administration probate quote including a deed of variation speak to a member of our team on 08007318722 or send us an inquiry via our website and one of our advisers will give you a call.