What is a Deed of Variation?
A Deed of Variation enables a beneficiary to pass their entitlement to another person after a death. From time-to-time, even after a will has been prepared, the document will need to be altered following a death. Variations are sometimes agreed when no will is in place and beneficiaries agree to vary the distribution of assets. When entitlements are redirected to other people, a deed can enable this to occur without the initial beneficiary being faced with any tax consequences.
The deed needs to be made within two years of the death and must be signed by any beneficiaries who stand to lose assets due to the variation. The deed needs to identify clearly the area of the estate which is being varied. Furthermore, it needs to clarify who will benefit from the variation.
There are many circumstances in which it may be necessary to change a will after a death. Sometimes Deeds of Variation are made when there is a dispute about how valid a will is. The person may have lacked mental capacity when they made the will, to give just one example. The beneficiaries may wish to avoid the stress of litigation if a will appears invalid by simply reaching an agreement between themselves. A claim may be made if someone is legally entitled to financial provision. If the claim is successful, a deed of variation may be used to record the changes.
Deeds of Variation are sometimes made to reduce Inheritance Tax. Someone who is subject to higher rate tax may decide to pass their entitlement on for tax-efficient purposes, such as their children so they don’t need to be taxed at 40%. There may also be a chance to save on capital gains tax when an asset has risen in value since the death in question by passing it elsewhere.
A Deed of Variation can be used to benefit someone who has been excluded from a will, to ensure the next generation can receive assets and to reflect the difference between the financial statuses of beneficiaries. Family circumstances may have changed substantially since the will was made, and a Deed of Variation may be used to make the will more reflective of current circumstances. By simply refusing an inheritance, you may lose control over where the assets end up, but with a Deed of Variation, you can retain an influence on who benefits from the gifts.
How we can help
At HS Lawyers, we can come to your assistance if you are interested in arranging a Deed of Variation. We have a great deal of experience when it comes to helping people with will-related matters prior to and following a death, and you can contact us at any point if you have any queries about what we can do for you. We provide a comprehensive legal service and specialise in various areas related to family and business law. To find out more, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 525 2555 / 3100.