Home > Legal Articles > Can a Will be varied if the youngest beneficiary is 17 at the date of death?

Can a Will be varied if the youngest beneficiary is 17 at the date of death?

Posted on Thursday, 15th October 2015 by

A Will is used to express how an individual would like their estate to be distributed after they have passed away. Sometimes a Will is created and the person at the time didn’t realise the consequences due to their wishes, for example tax consequences. If this circumstance arises, the deceased wishes can be altered through a Deed of Variation.

Deed of Variation made within 2 years


A Deed of Variation made within 2 years of the date of death will apply for Inheritance Tax purposes as if it were always in place.  However, as it requires the consent of all beneficiaries, a Deed of Variation typically requires all beneficiaries to be over the age of 18.

Where the youngest beneficiary attains the age of 18 within the 2 year period, it may be possible to enter into a Deed of Variation, even though they were not 18 at the date of death.

18 years of age

Business Property Relief


This could be attractive in cases such as where there had been an incorrect assumption that Business Property Relief would be available, which resulted in an unintended inheritance tax charge which would not be triggered by a gift to a surviving spouse.


Where there is a possibility of undue influence on the 18 year old then the Variation may be challenged by HMRC and therefore the young adult should be advised to take separate legal advice in these circumstances.

Even without any suggestion of undue influence, HMRC practice is to ask about the circumstances where a deed of variation redirects assets to a spouse, to try to establish whether there is any intention for the spouse (or the trustees of a trust in which the spouse has a life interest) to pass the assets back to those making the variation or otherwise give consideration that would prevent the variation from qualifying for retrospective inheritance tax (IHT) treatment under section 142 of IHTA 1984.

As every situation is different, it will not always be a suitable route forwards, but it may help some families.

family IHT






If you found this article helpful we would recommed reading, ‘Tax and Avoidance and Deeds of Variation‘.

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The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

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Elizabeth Ince - Wills and Probate
Elizabeth Ince - Wills and Probate
elizabeth.ince@ehlsolicitors.co.uk 01298 22874
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