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.