Deed of Variation

Deed of Variation challenging will after death

Deed of variation – Changing a will after death: In some cases, it may be necessary to make changes to someone’s Will after they have died. Here at Cartwright King, we can advise and assist throughout this process.

What is a Deed of Variation? 

A person’s Will or intestacy details how they wish their assets to be distributed to their loved ones after they have passed away. However, sometimes there are circumstances where loved ones want to make changes to the Will after the person has died, and it is possible to do so with a Deed of Variation.

We can help if you are a beneficiary of a loved one’s Will and would like to redirect assets that were left to you by someone else. Changes to your relative’s will or intestacy can only be made as long as all beneficiaries and Executors of the Will agree on the changes and document this in writing. Any changes can also only be made for the first two years after your loved one passed away.

If Your Relative Passed Away Without a Will 

A Deed of Variation can also be used if your loved one passed away without a Will and their estate falls under the rules of intestacy. It might be necessary to request that relatives of the person who passed away use a Deed of Variation if you are the unmarried partner or stepchild of the person, for example, because the rules of intestacy will not apply to you.

There are many reasons why you might want to apply for a Deed of Variation, and whatever they are, we are here to help you.

Changing a Will after Death 

Certain requirements allow changes to be made to a Will after someone has passed away, including:

  • You are a beneficiary or an Executor of the Will,
  • You have the written and signed permission from all other beneficiaries and Executors to submit a Deed of Variation,
  • Your relative passed in the past two years, and
  • You have a genuine reason for wanting to make the changes

Deed of Variation After Probate 

Our probate solicitors are here to assist you with your Deed of Variation application whether you have applied for probate or not. Probate is the legal process of valuing and distributing a person’s estate after they have passed away. It is possible to prepare a Deed of Variation before or after probate is applied for, but it must be prepared within two years of death and probate can sometimes take time, especially if the estate is particularly large or complex.


A Deed of Variation can also be used to redirect assets into a trust fund. Transferring assets into a trust can help if you want to avoid a large increase in the inheritance tax that you will suffer if you still own the assets when you pass away. It can also provide a secure way to put away the assets for your children, or others who might benefit from them at a later date.

We can help you with any issues that you may find with applying for a deed of variation (changing a will after death) and make the process as simple as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Deed of Variation is a document with which a person or people who have been left inheritance in a loved one's Will in the form of money, possessions or property, can redirect the assets to another person or people.

This can only happen if all beneficiaries and Executors of the Will agree to the Deed of Variation and confirm their agreement in writing.

All beneficiaries of the Will i.e. anyone who has been left possessions, land, property or money by the person who has passed away must sign the Deed of Variation if changes need to be made to the person's Will after they die. All Executors of the Will must also sign the Deed.

If there was no Will left by the person, then the person appointed as the Administrator must sign the Deed if they want to make changes to the way the deceased's assets will be distributed. The beneficiaries must also sign the Deed if there is no Will.

Once a Deed of Variation is signed by all Executors or the Administrator, and by all beneficiaries, it is extremely rare that it would be able to be revoked. Revocation could only occur if you can prove that there has been a mistake, for example, if one beneficiary has been missed and hasn't signed the Deed.

Yes, an Executor can change a Will, but only if they have the permission to do so from all other Executors and beneficiaries who have been listed in the Will. The permission needs to be given in writing with a signature.

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