Q&A Can we change Dad’s Will after he dies to include his grandchildren?

Q: My widowed father has never updated his Will and now it is too late because he has Alzheimer’s. My concern is that he has left nothing to his grandchildren who could really do with a leg up financially. I know it used to be possible to amend a Will after someone died, is this still the case?

A: Technically, nobody can change a Will after someone has died. What they can do is change the effect a Will has, or the rules of intestacy if a person dies without a valid Will. This is possible by executing a Deed of Variation either before or after Probate or Letters of Administration have been granted.

A Deed of Variation may be used to include beneficiaries not named in the Will or accounted for by the rules of intestacy, or to distribute the deceased’s estate more evenly or unevenly, depending on the wishes and circumstances of the beneficiaries.

Importantly, a Deed of Variation can be used to mitigate Inheritance Tax payable on the deceased’s estate, or beneficiaries’ estates on their death. Any alterations must meet the requirements of the Inheritance Tax Act and the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act and be executed within two years of the date of death. All beneficiaries named in the Will (or under the rules of intestacy) who would be worse off because of the changes must also agree to those changes. Minors who are beneficiaries cannot consent to a Deed of Variation, so other beneficiaries may need to go to court to obtain consent on their behalf. The executors of the Will may also need to provide a copy of the Deed to HMRC.

Changes made by the Deed are treated as though the person who died included them in their Will. Once executed, the Deed is generally irrevocable, so beneficiaries cannot later change their minds and ask for what they gave up willingly. All parties must therefore be sure of their decision.

This question has been answered by Jessica Wright, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, please visit our website www.ghplegal.com and use the contact us form, or call us on: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194 

Jessica Wright

Jessica Wright

Solicitor

Part of our Probate, Wills, Tax and Trusts team in Oswestry.