Deeds of Variations are legal documents usually drawn up by a solicitor that can be used in certain circumstances to change the way a deceased persons assets are disposed of.
Some families find a need or desire to change a loved ones will after the person has passed away. There are a number of reasons they may wish to make changes, this could be to right a wrong after a family dispute, or to ensure a more favorable inheritance tax position for future generations.
A Deed of Variation can also be referred to as an Instrument of Variation, a Family Arrangement, a Deed of Surrender, or a Deed of Assignment.
A Deed of Variation changes a Will after death and enables the beneficiaries of a deceased’s estate to alter the distribution of that estate, or relinquish a bequest from an estate, by changing the deceased’s Will. This can only be done with the agreement of all effected beneficiaries under the original will and provided that non of these beneficiaries are minors or people suffering from lack of mental capacity.
A Deed of Variation can be drafted before or after Grant of Probate is issued and can be drafted up to two years after the date of death.
Each adult beneficiary under a Will (or an intestate estate) only has the authority to vary his own share of the estate, but it can apply to any property comprised in a deceased’s estate as long as the person wishing to vary has an interest in that property.
When children under the age of majority are due to inherit, the matter is more complicated as they cannot themselves consent to changes. An application must be made to the courts for consent to be obtained on their behalf. The rights of children cannot be varied except by Court Order.