Variation of the Will

Under certain circumstances it may be desirable to change the will of a deceased person after their death. This will normally require a solicitor to draft the deed and will require the agreement of any beneficiary who is worse off as a result of the variation and the executors of the will. Varying the will can be done before or after probate is obtained and is independent to obtaining a Grant of Representation. However, it must be done within two years of the death. There is no need to send a copy of the Deed of Variation to HMRC unless there is more Inheritance tax to pay as a result of the variation.
The reasons that the beneficiaries or executors may wish to vary a will can include:
  • To balance up bequests made to beneficiaries
  • To utilise certain tax exemptions
  • To pass assets down a generation where the named beneficiaries already have sufficient funds and do not wish to increase their own exposure to Inheritance Tax
  • To put right an intention that the deceased had but had never addressed in their will
Deeds of variation are very effective but caution should be exercised where a named beneficiary is already in receipt of state means-tested benefits as the deed could be seen as a deprivation of income or capital by the benefit provider. This could possibly result in a withdrawal of the benefits. Under these circumstances it is recommended that full disclosure of the facts and prior approval of the benefit provider is sought.