deed of variation

Deed of Variation

Sometimes, the beneficiaries of a will may wish to direct more of an estate to charitable causes.

Fortunately, it is possible to change a will retrospectively so long as it is done within two years of the date of death. This is achieved using a legal document called a deed of variation (DoV) which must be agreed by all of the beneficiaries.

What is a DoV?

Sometimes called an Instrument of Variation or a Deed of Family Arrangement, these can be completed within 2 years of a person's death.

They are used to create or alter a deceased person's Will for various reasons but are generally used for Inheritance Tax (IHT) or Capital Gains Tax (CGT) purposes.

Good reasons to use a Deed of Variation

Balancing bequests: Siblings might be given different percentages of the residue but would prefer if they inherited the same amount.

Balancing wealth: A wealthy brother and a poorer sister being left the same share of the parents estate might agree to alter the percentages so that the poorer sister receives a larger share. 

Inheritance tax breaks: The nil-rate band (NRB) is the amount of a person's estate liable at 0 per cent inheritance tax (IHT), currently£325,000.  A DoV can reduce the amount of inheritance tax paid on an estate.  Beneficiaries who have children of their own might want to divert their own inheritance directly to their children so that their own IHT liability is reduced.

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