Changing Your Inheritance

Changing Your InheritanceChanging Your Inheritance

You might not know that changing your inheritance from someone who has died is possible, if they left you something in their Will (or died without a Will) and you have reasons to either reject or redirect this inheritance.

You can’t rewrite a Will after someone passes away, but the law does allow for changes in what you inherit from the estate, and this allows you to make adjustments to the distribution of the estate if, for example, circumstances have changed since the Will was signed.

The way to alter the distribution of the estate is to create a document called a “deed of variation” and we have experience drafting deeds of variation to cater for many different scenarios.

What is a deed of variation?

A deed of variation is a legal document that allows the beneficiaries of a deceased person’s estate to make changes to their inheritance after the person has died.

Why would I want to create a deed of variation?

In our experience, the main reasons you might want to change the distribution of an estate include:

  • You don’t need all of your share and want it to benefit someone else.
  • to take advantage of the reduced rate of Inheritance Tax (36%) for charities.
  • to ensure that assets pass to someone not provided for in the Will (or under the rules where there’s no Will).
  • to reduce the amount of other taxes (including Capital Gains Tax) payable on the estate.

“Tim dealt with my Mother’s estate after her passing on behalf of my sister and I. He was very professional and supportive during this difficult time and provided excellent advice throughout the process. He was extremely easy to speak to and responded quickly to any query we had. Tim has a very pleasant manner about him and it was a pleasure dealing with him. His costs were very reasonable also.”

Lynne Mitchell, Glasgow

What can't be changed by a deed of variation?

A deed of variation can’t be used to:

  • Alter or remove another people’s inheritance without their express, written approval.
  • Change the executor(s) named in the deceased person's Will.
  • Gift yourself a greater share of the estate (unless the other beneficiaries agree to this).

What if there's no Will to change?

When someone passes away without a valid Will, they are considered "intestate," and the rules of intestacy apply to their estate according to Scottish law.

These rules are fairly strict regarding inheritance rights and amounts, often overlooking the complexities of family situations.

The absence of a Will can lead to unforeseen consequences. However, a Deed of Variation can be used to adjust the estate's distribution for a fairer outcome.

This can be particularly beneficial in cases where the deceased had a long-term partner, as under Scots law, co-habiting partners don't automatically inherit from their deceased partner's estate.

How can I reduce the tax an estate is exposed to?

When a beneficiary decides to redirect their inheritance from an estate, they can benefit from specific tax advantages.

One such benefit is the reduction of Inheritance Tax (IHT) payable to HM Revenue and Customs.

For example, the beneficiary may choose to transfer a part of the estate to a registered charity, and HM Revenue and Customs provides an exemption to IHT where a charity is the beneficiary.

If the estate's value exceeds the current IHT threshold of £325,000, directing assets to a charity decreases the estate's overall value - thereby reducing the IHT liability. If this redirection lowers the estate's value below the IHT threshold, the IHT liability may be entirely eliminated.

In a similar scenario, if the beneficiary redirects 10% (or more) of the estate to a charity, the IHT payable on the entire estate decreases from the standard rate of 40% to 36%. This can yield significant tax savings for larger estates.

Use our deed of variation service today.

We are available to speak with you now on 0141 628 5544 or or send us an online enquiry and we can provide you with our fixed-fee and precise turn-around times for our deed of variation service.

Weir Law Solicitors focus on Confirmation and Probate and in Scotland. With office locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and throughout the country, we cover all locations throughout Scotland and across the wider world. We have assisted clients in Australia, Canada, Brazil, USA and mainland Europe with deeds of variation to date, and your geographic location will not be an impediment.

Whatever your query, contact us today on 0141 628 5544 or