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Deeds of Variation

Whilst the Will is an expression of how someone would like their estate to be distributed, sometimes people die without realising the full consequences of their wishes, in particular the tax consequences.

In some circumstances, it is possible to change the deceased’s wishes after death by using a Deed of Variation.  The most common reasons for this are:

  • Inheritance Tax planning – either to use tax free allowances or to pass assets to the next generation which are eligible for tax reliefs;
  • Where a beneficiary wishes to redirect their legacy, such as passing it immediately to their children;
  • A substituted Will to address any obvious mistakes or inconsistencies within the Will;
  • To ‘write’ a will for someone who has died intestate.

There are two key rules before a Deed of Variation may be made:

i) All of the residuary beneficiaries do need to agree on a Deed of Variation.

ii) If it is proposed to vary the interest of a child to its detriment, this needs the approval of the court.

Time Limits

The key time limit is two years from the date of death.  If a Deed of Variation is entered into before or on the second anniversary, it can state that it is to apply for inheritance tax and capital gains tax purposes as though that had been the original position.

If the Deed of Variation is not tax driven, it can be entered into after the two year date but the original inheritance tax treatment applies as if the assets had passed under the terms of the Will.

If you would like to speak to a member of our Probate team today please contact us for supportive, expert advice.

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