How to make changes to a Will after death
We cannot stress enough the importance of having an up-to-date Will that adequately reflects your wishes. Not only does this give you peace of mind but it can hopefully keep things simple for your loved ones when you are no longer here.
There may, however, be circumstances in which a Will may need to be altered after death to be most effective for the beneficiaries. For example, after the Will comes into effect there may be a change of circumstances, such as additional grandchildren or substantial changes in the beneficiary’s wealth that means they may not need the Inheritance they are due to receive. Fortunately, it is possible to make changes to a Will after death through either a Deed of Variation or by using disclaimers.
Deed of Variation
If a beneficiary is concerned that receiving a large Inheritance would negatively affect their own Inheritance Tax liability they could use a Deed of Variation to redirect their Inheritance to their children or to a chosen charity. As well as helping the beneficiary’s own financial circumstances, this would also mean the funds would not be subject to the 7-year survival rule because the funds would be considered as gifted from the deceased’s Estate rather than being gifted by the beneficiary on receipt of the Inheritance.
This type of deed must be created within 2 years of death, it must be in writing and it must be made by the person who is benefiting from the Will originally.
A disclaimer allows a beneficiary to refuse to accept the Inheritance that is provided for them in a Will. The beneficiary may not say who should receive the inheritance instead; it will go back to the estate to be redistributed along with the residual estate. As with a Deed of Variation there are conditions, for example that it must be done within two years of death and may not be for
the purpose of any other financial consideration. It is, however, a more simple process than a Deed of Variation as it can be done by writing a letter explaining the decisions to HMRC. Another difference is that you cannot disclaim an inheritance after you have received it.
There are more in-depth requirements to these arrangements; we would be happy to discuss these with you if you are a beneficiary and may wish to vary an Inheritance you have or are due to receive.
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