How to Change a Will after Death

How to Change a Will after Death

How to Change a Will after Death

This blog is about changing a will after death. It’s not about changing a will before death. And it’s not about trying to make good a glaring omission in a will after someone dies, for example if you discover the will wasn’t signed. This is potentially an “intestacy” (more of which below) unless an earlier will is discovered. But don’t worry, changes can also be made after death where there is an intestacy.

If you’re thinking of making a will make sure you get advice from an expert – this could save your family a lot of heartache and money in the long run.

See my recent blog Do I need a will? Here’s one very good reason to find out how to benefit your family.

Why would anyone want to change a will after death?

Reasons include:

  • Reduce inheritance tax or capital gains tax
  • Benefit someone who was overlooked in the will
  • Skip a generation

What’s an intestacy?

It’s when someone dies without making a will.  The intestacy rules apply to decide who gets what. Here’s a helpful guide Intestacy – who inherits if someone dies without a will

How is a will or intestacy changed after death?

It is changed with a document known as a deed of variation or a deed of family arrangement. There are various important rules if you want it to be effective. 

What is a deed of variation or deed of family arrangement?

A written agreement changing the will (or intestacy) after death. There are certain requirements. The beneficiary or beneficiaries who have inherited must be agreeable to the change and the change must take place within two years of the death to be effective for tax purposes.

But there are other very strict rules too. Here is a link to a helpful HMRC form Instrument of Variation ChecklistYou can use this form to see if you will meet the requirements of the Inheritance Tax Act and the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act. HMRC recommends you go through the form before the variation is signed.

But if you have the slightest doubt please seek expert legal advice – this can be free, low cost or fixed cost.

I still don’t get it, can you give me an example?

Imagine a situation where there are three generations of a family: grandmother (Edna), daughter (Barbara), and granddaughter (Sophie). When Edna dies she leaves everything to Barbara. Shortly afterwards, Barbara discovers she herself is seriously ill.

Although both Edna and Barbara lived very modestly, added together their estates would be liable to inheritance tax. Barbara wants to leave everything to Sophie but doesn’t want her daughter to pay tax. She comes to us and asks us what she can do.

We advise a deed of variation. This sets out that the gift in Edna’s will to Barbara goes instead to Sophie. This meant that when Sophie inherits her mother’s estate shortly afterwards, there is no inheritance tax to pay. Edna’s estate has skipped a generation to Sophie.

What about joint ownership?

If you inherited as a joint owner but you would much rather someone else benefitted, this can be changed too.

How to Change a Will after Death

Contact expert Wills solicitor, Karen Layland, on 01202 798199 or by email for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How to Change a Will after DeathIn this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How to Change a Will after Death are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Young Old by Heptagon on Wikimedia

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