Can a Will be changed after death?
The simple answer is Yes – but why would you and how?
Sometimes beneficiaries are surprised by the contents of a loved one’s Will – and the surprise is occasionally an unpleasant one.
Perhaps a family member feels unfairly excluded. Maybe a primary caregiver deserves to stay in the family home during their lifetime.
Can you change the terms of a Will after a person’s death? Or even to set out terms if your loved one died without a Will at all?
If all the beneficiaries agree then, yes, it is possible to amend the Will (or standard division of assets if your loved one died intestate) providing it is done within 2 years of death.
Why amend a Will?
Perhaps to include someone who was left out, or received a smaller inheritance. It may be a child, or grandchild, that was born after the Will was drawn up and the deceased would have wanted to include them.
It may also be to minimise any potential inheritance tax bill. This is more common when someone dies intestate and assets are divided between a surviving partner and children without utilising the spouse relief causing an IHT bill. Comedian Rik Mayall passed away in June 2014 intestate. This meant his family were taxed far more on his £1.9 million fortune than would normally be the case.
Another good reason is to place the estate in trust to protect a disabled family member who may lose state benefits as a result of the inheritance. A trust can also protect the home of a surviving spouse or partner who may have been excluded in favour of the children.
How can we amend a Will?
Firstly, all the beneficiaries, especially those who may be left worse off, need to agree otherwise there cannot be any changes.
Once all the beneficiaries and executors agree a document called a ‘Deed of Variation’ can be drafted. Once all concerned have signed the deed, it is legally binding and the executors can distribute the estate accordingly.
To ensure that that you have the most appropriate and up to date planning in place call Barnet Wills for a free review now on 020 3189 1737 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org