When someone dies, the executors who are appointed will look to their Will to find out their wishes and see who is to benefit from the estate. However, sometimes the beneficiaries who are due to inherit from the estate may not want to. This could be for many reasons, e.g. because the inheritance will push their own estate over the inheritance tax threshold, or they simply feel comfortable with what they have. In those circumstances, the beneficiaries may wish for someone else to benefit in their place, such as grandchildren or their siblings.
Other reasons for changing a Will may be to equalise the gifts. So, for example, if one child was left a smaller percentage than another, it can be agreed that the percentages are evened out using a Deed of Variation. It can also be used if one child is not as wealthy as the other and would benefit more from having a larger share.
Deed of Variation
If all of the executors and the beneficiaries who are affected agree to the changes, the terms of the Will can be changed after death using something called a Deed of Variation. This must be signed by the executors and affected beneficiaries within two years of the death to be valid. If the agreement of all parties can’t be obtained, the Deed cannot be signed and the terms of the original Will stands.
If any of the beneficiaries are under 18, then this would need to be approved by the Court.
Do I Need to Register The Deed of Variation?
There is no need to register the Deed of Variation. It is simply a contract outlining the agreement between the executors and beneficiaries, so it only needs to be signed to ensure that it is legally binding. It is important that none of the parties are compensated for what they have given up and that none of the original assets were affected by a Gift with Reservation (where the asset was given away during the deceased’s lifetime, but they continued to benefit from it). However, the parties must keep a copy of the signed Deed in case the Revenue has questions regarding it in the future.
If you are considering a Deed of Variation for an estate you are involved in, I would strongly suggest that you seek independent legal advice, as the effects can be wide-ranging. A simple Deed of Variation starts from £400 plus VAT and can be drawn up within a couple of weeks. If you want more information on this topic, contact me today.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.