For many of us, a Will is one of the most important documents that we will ever prepare. Knowing that our wishes are explicitly stated for our loved ones to follow after our death can bring some comfort. We might rewrite or alter our Wills as we progress through life, but what happens if changes are needed to your Will after you have died? Is it possible to do this? This post will discuss the situations where this issue might arise and what can be done.
There are several legitimate reasons for altering a Will after death. Each family will be different and have their own reasons for altering a Will, but the following are among the most common.
A legal document called a ‘Deed of Variation’ must be prepared. This is a written document that outlines clearly what parts of the estate are being changed. To be valid, it must be prepared within two years of the death and signed by anyone who would see their inheritance reduced or otherwise negatively affected.
The focus of a Deed of Variation is the distribution of the estate. A beneficiary can use it to ensure that their inheritance reaches someone else either in part or in full. A Deed of Variation can also be used to make changes to each of the beneficiaries’ inheritance provided there is a collective agreement.
As a Deed of Variation focuses on the distribution of an estate, it cannot make changes outside of that. Therefore, it cannot be used to change an executor. A Deed of Variation cannot be used to reduce another person’s inheritance without their permission.
Murray Beith Murray are experts in estate planning, including executries (probate) and taxation. To discuss any questions raised by this post or discuss any other legal matter, please complete our contact form or call us on 0131 225 1200 to speak to one of our specialist solicitors.
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