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Beneficiaries of a will can make changes to their share of an estate after the death of the testator or testatrix by using a deed of variation.

Deeds of variation cannot be used to give yourself a larger amount (unless another beneficiary has agreed to share some of their entitlement), but they can be used to potentially reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable.

The variation must:

  • be made within two years of the death of the testator/testatrix,
  • be clear on which parts of the estate are to be changed and who will benefit,
  • can only be done where all beneficiaries affected are over the age of 18 and have mental capacity to make the decision, and
  • include a statement on the taxes that will apply.

The requirements for the variation to be legally valid are strict, so assistance from a legal professional is highly recommended.

Also known as a deed of family arrangement, your deed applies only to your portion of the estate. Your specific reasons for wanting to use a deed of variation could be to share with someone else (such as a new member of the family or someone you believe needs it more), to donate to charity, or as part of your own inheritance tax planning. .

Our solicitors consider our clients’ specific circumstances in every legal matter, to make sure the advice provided is bespoke to their needs.

Our wills and probate solicitors are experienced in drafting deeds used for making changes to the distribution of high value estates, in many cases achieving significant savings on inheritance tax.

We can also advise in situations where there is no will, in which the rules of intestacy apply to help family members with issues such as ensuring that an unmarried partner of the deceased is provided for.

In the event of a dispute, we also have experienced estate dispute resolution solicitors who can advise on matters such as contentious probate and challenges to intestacy.

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