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Estate Law


Trustees of Discretionary Trusts

Express Trust Formalities

Reform Presumed Resulting Trusts

Resulting Trusts

Discretionary Trusts Beneficiary Rights

Introduction to Secret Trusts

Secret Trusts

Enforcing a Trust

Certainty of Intention

Certainty of Objects

Certainty of Subject Matter

Special Duties of Trustees


After Death

Challenging a Will

Making a Dependency Claim

Contesting a Will

Types of Grant and Who Can Apply

Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependants

Provision for Family and Dependants

Trustees Appointing Replacement

Perpetuities and Accumulations Rules

What Happens to Your Body When You Die


Making a Will


When to Write a Will

Formalities of Making a Will - S.9 Wills Act


Rules of Intestacy

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax on Gifts

Power of Attorney

Mental Capacity and Power of Attorney


A Living Will

Deed of Variation

Mutual Wills

Codicils and Revoking Wills

Dying Intestate

Revocation of a Will


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Changing a will after death

What is a Deed of Variation?

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. It enables beneficiaries of a deceasedís estate to alter the distribution on of that estate, or relinquish a bequest from an estate by changing the deceased's Will.

How can A Deed of Variation be used?

The use of such a deed allow the beneficiaries of a deceasedís estate to rewrite the distribution of the estate so that it passes on in the most Inheritance Tax efficient way and to minimise Capital Gains Tax (GCT) liability. They can also be used to pass the estate to a different beneficiary.

A Deed of Variation can be drawn up to two years after the date of death. Making a Discretionary Trust and skipping a generation are both ways in which Deeds of Variations can be used to alter the will of a deceased to reduce Inheritance Tax liability.

In order to establish a Deed of Variation all the beneficiaries of the will must be in agreement. When children are involved the matter is further complicated as they cannot themselves consent to changes. An application must be made to the courts for consent to be obtained on their behalf.

Why Use a Deed of Variation?

There are many reasons why it may be desirable to amend the will of a deceased or indeed an Intestacy, for example, to balance the differences in the finances of the beneficiaries (perhaps from a wealthy sibling to a poorer one), or to pass the inheritance on to the next generation rather than swelling the estates, which will be taxable, of wealthy parents to struggling grandchildren.

Can a Deed of Variation be Relied on?

Most people would like to deal with the issue of Inheritance Tax Planning and not return to the issue, confident that they have found the most efficient way to deal with their estate. Unfortunately, although extremely useful, a Deed of Variation should not be relied upon as part of an individuals estate planning. It may be that the effectiveness is reduced by the Government in the future. At present, however, they do offer an effective way of changing a will after death.

When Can a Deed of Variation be Used?

A Deed of Variation can only be used if:

nb. Although a Deed of Variation is treated as a rewriting of the will for purposes of Inheritance Tax, for all other tax purposes it is treated as a gift of inheritance.

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