Can the distribution of an estate be changed after death?
The beneficiaries named in the deceased’s will or those who will benefit under the intestacy rules can change how the deceased’s estate is distributed.
How can the distribution of an estate be changed?
A beneficiary who wishes to redirect or change their inheritance from the deceased’s estate can do so with a Deed of Variation.
Why might a beneficiary want to change inheritance of an estate?
Some people choose to change inheritance to:
- Provide for someone who has been left out
- Make the distribution equal
- Reduce the amount of inheritance tax owed by the estate
- Sever a joint tenancy
Who needs to agree to a Deed of Variation?
Only beneficiaries who would be affected by the deed of variation would need to agree. In order to agree to a deed of variation, a beneficiary must be 18+ years old.
If an estate is left equally between two of the deceased’s children (Bobby and Alfie) and one of those children (Bobby) thinks the estate should be divided equally three ways between the two named in the will and the deceased’s third child (Rocky) then Alfie would have to agree with Bobby for this to occur. If Alfie did not agree, Bobby could do a deed of variation and split his own half of the estate between himself and Rocky then he would not need Alfie’s agreement.
Pixie’s son passes away leaving no spouse, civil partner, children or grandchildren. Pixie is her son’s only surviving parent and she is wealthy. Pixie decides that she would prefer her surviving child Jen would benefit more from the money at this point in time and so wants a Deed of Variation. Pixie would not need the consent of any other relatives in order to do this as she is solely entitled to the estate.
When should a Deed of Variation be prepared?
A Deed of Variation must be in place within two years of the deceased’s date of death and can be prepared either before obtaining a grant or after.
What is the difference between a Deed of Variation and a disclaimer?
A disclaimer is when you confirm you do not want to benefit, however unlike with a deed of variation, if you simply disclaim you do not get to divert your inheritance to who you choose.