Making a deed of variation

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If you want an inheritance to benefit someone else

If you inherit money from the estate of a loved one, you may decide to share it with other people. For example, you might want to make a gift to someone not recognised in the original will. Or you could decide to pass the money on to your children to help pay for their education. You might have heard of a ‘Deed of Variation', which lets you pass on a gift from a will and can mean a big tax saving. But what exactly is it, and how do you go about getting one?

A deed of variation lets you divert a gift from a will

With a deed of variation, you can change the way that a gift from an estate is distributed. You don’t necessarily have to take formal legal advice, and you don’t have to notify HMRC unless it’s a taxable estate. But you’ll need to complete the deed within 2 years of the deceased person’s death if you want to take advantage of the tax benefits. And of course, everyone whose share of the estate is reduced will need to agree to the change.

How we can help

If you’ve got questions about a deed of variation, speak to our team of legal experts to get the full picture. They’ll tell you what the law says and what conditions you need to satisfy to get the outcome you want. They can also help you make the most of any tax advantages to your planned deed – and warn you if there are any potential drawbacks.

We’ll

  • listen to why you want a deed of variation
  • explain what you’ll need to tell HMRC
  • help you take full advantage of any tax benefits

All advice contained within this section relates to England and Wales only.

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Meet your experts
Ben Rosser Sq Ben Rossor Ben joined Which? in 2015, prior to this having worked in private practice. He now enjoys using his knowledge to aid members with their issues and queries on wills, probate and estate management.
ID Photo Sarah Henley Sarah specialises in supporting our members on Wills, the probate process, Powers of Attorney and estate administration. See profile
Paul Hanford Sq Paul Handford With over 20 years of varied legal experience, Paul now specialises in private client work, which includes drawing up wills and deeds of trust. See profile
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