Changing a will after someone has passed away: Deed of Variation

Sometimes, a person receiving an inheritance under a will, or under the intestacy rules, may not wish to receive some or all of the inheritance due to them. It is possible to change a person’s will after their death, or to change the intestacy rules if they did not leave a will. To do this, you must meet certain conditions.

Why should I consider changing a will?

The most common reasons for changing a will or the intestacy rules are to:

  • Include someone who was originally left out of a will
  • Include someone who did not inherit anything under the intestacy rules, such as a stepchild
  • Reduce the amount of tax payable, such as inheritance tax
  • Create a trust to provide for a vulnerable person
  • Carry out the deceased’s wishes if they did not manage to change their Will during their lifetime
  • Pass your inheritance onto another generation, such as your children

How can I change what is in a will and what is a Deed of Variation?

To change a will you must prepare a document called a Deed of Variation. This must be done within 2 years of the date of death.

The document must be signed and witnessed by all beneficiaries who will be receiving less inheritance from the estate by the variation being made.

You cannot change the deed of variation once everyone has signed it.

If the variation means that you need to pay more tax, you will need to send a copy to HMRC. You do not need to do this if there is no more tax to pay. You must send the copy deed of variation to HMRC within 6 months of signing it.

If you are unsure whether there will be tax to pay, ask a legal professional for advice. You can find a suitable professional using the Law Society Find a Solicitor service.