Deeds of variation

One might think that if you make a will, your wishes on your death are set in stone — this is not necessarily true. In certain circumstances there is opportunity for those to whom you have left your estate, to change your instructions and alter your will (or the provisions of intestacy).

This can be done by way of a Deed of Variation — a document which changes the provisions of a will or the rules providing for the distribution of an estate on intestacy. The variation will result in a beneficiary's entitlement under a will or intestacy being rewritten in accordance with that beneficiary's wishes.

There are certain requirements of a Deed of Variation which must be complied with to ensure it is legally valid. Firstly, the deed must be made in writing and signed by all those who wish to vary their entitlement under the will. Also, there must be no inducement or “consideration” for a beneficiary of a will to agree to a variation which would benefit someone else. Lastly, the deed must be made within two years of the deceased's death.

Justification for Deeds of Variation

Whilst it may seem unreasonable that someone's wishes can be varied or even erased completely in this way, there are genuine reasons why taking this step can be helpful.

It can correct or amend what could be regarded as an unfair instruction in a will. This can arise particularly in the case of very old wills which should have been updated in line with changes in family circumstances.

A Deed of Variation may be made if the deceased genuinely intended a different instruction but failed, for whatever reason, in updating his or her will to achieve this.

It can also assist a family in inheritance tax planning down the generations and in the protection of assets for the family.

Our probate solicitors will highlight to you any advantages in your executing of such a document, in the light of your own circumstances and those of your family, and draft any document required.

Get in touch 

For further information or advice please call 01753 889995 or email

Deeds of variation Specialists

Lucy Wood
Practice Group Leader
Sharon Heselton
Senior Associate (Non Solicitor)
Dominic Ibbs
Senior Associate

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