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  • Writer's pictureWayne Barnett FCA | MIPW | STEP Affiliate

Deed of Variation: Understanding the Basics

A Deed of Variation is a legal document that allows beneficiaries to alter the terms of a deceased person's Will. This instrument provides flexibility in managing the distribution of assets, ensuring that the wishes of the deceased align more closely with the needs and circumstances of the beneficiaries.

What is a Deed of Variation?

A Deed of Variation is a legally binding document that enables beneficiaries to make changes to a deceased person's Will after their death. This tool is particularly useful when the original terms of the Will do not suit the current needs or circumstances of the beneficiaries.

When is it Used?

Changing Inheritance Shares

Beneficiaries may use a Deed of Variation to alter the distribution of assets among themselves. This is often done to address changing family dynamics or financial needs.

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Tax Planning

It can be employed as a tax planning strategy to optimise inheritance tax liability. By redirecting assets or varying the shares, beneficiaries can potentially reduce the overall tax burden.

Providing for Dependents

If the original Will does not adequately provide for dependents, a Deed of Variation can be used to ensure they receive a fair share of the estate.

Key Components of a Deed of Variation


The document should clearly identify the deceased person, the beneficiaries, and the assets being varied.

Statement of Intention

The beneficiaries must express their intention to vary the terms of the Will and outline the changes they wish to make.

Legal Formalities

A Deed of Variation must adhere to specific legal formalities, including being in writing, signed by the beneficiaries, and, in some jurisdictions, witnessed.

Legal Implications

Legally Binding

Once executed, a Deed of Variation is legally binding and has the effect of rewriting the Will. All parties involved should fully understand the implications of the changes.

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Time Limit

In many jurisdictions, there is a time limit within which a Deed of Variation must be

executed. It is crucial to be aware of and adhere to this timeframe.

Inheritance Tax Considerations

Changes made through a Deed of Variation may have tax implications. It's advisable to seek professional advice to ensure compliance with tax laws.


In conclusion, a Deed of Variation is a valuable legal tool that allows beneficiaries to adapt the distribution of assets in a deceased person's Will to better suit their needs. Whether it's addressing family dynamics, optimising tax liabilities, or providing for dependents, this instrument provides a flexible and legally sanctioned means of modifying the terms of a Will.

It's important to approach the creation and execution of a Deed of Variation with care and seek advice to ensure that all parties involved fully understand the consequences and comply with relevant legal requirements.


If you require any further details, consult with a qualified Will Writer at Maplebrook Services Ltd today by contacting the office on +357 26 600780 or


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