Sometimes the contents of a loved one’s Will are surprising, do not make sense, and at worst you may feel that the Will does not treat the next of kin or other beneficiaries fairly. While the person who made the Will may have done so with the best intentions, the beneficiaries may feel that certain things should go to other relatives or friends instead, or there may be other good reasons for wanting to change the distribution of the estate.
If you want to change the distribution of the estate after the person who made the Will has passed away, you can do this with a document called a Deed of Variation. Any change can be made to the distribution of the estate. However, the key point is that all of the beneficiaries, particularly those who stand to lose out as a result of any proposed changes, must agree to the changes before the Deed can be drawn up.
In the absence of such agreement between the beneficiaries, no Deed of Variation can be made.
An alternative scenario is that you may feel that you have been unfairly excluded from the will, or that the will does not make adequate provision for you. In this instance, you have two options available:
- You can attempt to argue that the will is not valid. This is usually the result of the necessary formalities not having been complied with, or the person who made the will was not of sound mind at the time of signing it. If this argument is successful, the will is treated as though it does not exist and the estate will be distributed according to the intestacy position, or an earlier will, if there is one.
- You can challenge the will under the Inheritance Act 1975. The law allows the court to vary a will to make further financial provision for certain classes of people connected to the deceased who have been left out of a will entirely or have not been left as much as they need.
If you wish to amend or challenge a will after a person has passed away, it is essential that you seek the assistance of a solicitor who will guide you through the process.