Experiencing the passing of a loved one can be a challenging time for all involved, especially upon the realisation that the Will does not equate to the recent wishes of the deceased before they had the time to make changes, or if you feel as though a friend or family member has been left out of the equation. With the emotions and confusion clouding your judgement, we are here to shine a light on your options.
What is a Deed of Variation?
Once a loved one passes, it is possible for a named beneficiary to make changes to the distribution of the deceased’s estate. However, for this to be done, a Deed of Variation would be required. This is the legal document that allows that beneficiary to alter the given instructions, such as decrease the amount they are due to inherit and pass on that sum to an additional person, regardless of if they are mentioned within the documents of the deceased’s Will or not.
What are the regulations?
There are, however, circumstances to this action that must be fulfilled before the Deed of Variation can be allowed. If the assigned beneficiaries are looking to divide a total sum of inheritance to include an additional person, it would need to be witnessed and legally acknowledged that all beneficiaries are in agreement with the alteration. If this action was being discussed between five people looking to include a sixth, but only four of the beneficiaries agree to the change of inheritance, these four in agreement would therefore have to divide their share of the estate whilst leaving the fifth with what they had been listed to within the instructions of the original Will.
To comply with the rules of the use of a Deed of Variation, the beneficiary would need to be over the age of 18 to legally agree to the alterations. If the change affects a minor or an unborn child, a court hearing must be held before preparing the Deed of Variation. For tax purposes the document must be created and executed within two years of the passing of the deceased, and so all beneficiaries must have discussed, agreed and processed these changes before the two-year deadline. A deed of variation can still be created after the two years and is often used to settle a dispute, but this would have no bearing on either the estates or any individuals tax position. It is possible for the Deed of Variation to be prepared before or after receiving a Grant of Probate, as well as before or after the estate has been distributed.
If you are feeling unsure as to whether you meet the requirements for the production of a Deed of Variation, of if you have any other queries surrounding the topic, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team here at Probate London who will be happy to assist and advise you on your possible options. Call 020 8017 1029 or email email@example.com to speak with us.