Changing a Will
When writing a Will, it’s important to think carefully about who you want to inherit your estate. Your decisions might be influenced by the current financial state of a loved one, or who you feel has supported you most in life. You might also think about your children and grandchildren. But what happens if your family expands after you die, a beneficiary passes away, or someone who used to be poor suddenly gets rich and doesn’t really need your inheritance? Can a Will be changed after death? Surprisingly, it can be. Let’s find out more about this process.
Who Can Change a Will?
Only a beneficiary of an existing will can make a Deed of Variation. This allows for certain changes to be made and requires the signed approval of all beneficiaries who could experience a negative impact from the changes, as well as by the beneficiary who is varying their entitlement to the estate. In addition to selecting a Kent accountant for Probate services and sorting out a loved one’s assets, a Deed of Variation may also be top of your to-do list.
Why Would I Need a Deed of Variation?
There are many reasons why a Deed of Variation might be appropriate. For example:
The protection of others
A beneficiary might alter their share of the Will to protect another loved one. A Deed of Variation can redirect assets to those who are more vulnerable or in greater need. Perhaps someone requires special medical care or has experienced hardship in life that they need support with.
Keeping things fair
If a Will was written before another grandchild was born, for example, a Deed of Variation can be used to add them into the Will. This ensures no one is unfairly left out. But again, this will need to be approved by the aforementioned third parties.
Inheritance Tax benefits
Inheritance Tax (IHT) is charged at a 40% rate on a deceased person’s estate above a threshold of £325,000. Beneficiaries can reduce their IHT liability by gifting their inheritance to someone else. A Deed of Variation would allow a new beneficiary to be added and for funds to be redirected. New beneficiaries can access money without paying IHT, whereas if they’d been given the money as a gift from the original beneficiary, the seven year rule would apply. This states that if the person dies within seven years of leaving a gift, IHT may be due. Kent tax advisors and estate planners such as Nick Hughes can help with this.
Gifting assets to charity
Gifting assets to charity can also reduce the amount of tax you’ll need to pay. By gifting 10% or more of the net estate to charity, the estate may be able to benefit from the lower 36% Inheritance Tax rate.
A will can therefore be changed after death, but only by a beneficiary and only when the terms have been laid down in writing and approved. The Deed of Variation must also be witnessed by someone who is neither a party to the Deed nor their spouse.