How to Beat Inheritance Tax by Rewriting Your Will

What are the rules?

The most important thing to remember is that there is a two-year window. Any deed of amendment must be drawn up within 24 months of the death of the deceased and must be signed by all the executors and assigns of the estate to be valid.

A DOV is separate from a grant of probate — the legal document that allows you to collect and distribute the assets of the deceased — and can be obtained before or after probate is granted.

There are no official documents to request, you can simply write a letter explaining the changes you want to make. However, you must ensure that the letter meets certain conditions – HM Revenues & Customs provides a checklist.

Subject to the agreement of everyone else involved, you can redirect your inheritance to whomever you wish, even if they are not named in the deceased’s will.

Although you may be the one who decides what changes to make, through a DOV the changes are made on behalf of the deceased as if they were making the changes themselves.

If a change affects someone under 18, you will need court approval before making any changes.

What if there is no will?

When a person dies without leaving a will, their estate passes to their next of kin, usually a spouse or other immediate family member, according to so-called intestate rules.

However, the rules state that certain family members cannot inherit. Unmarried partners, stepchildren, and other relatives and friends, no matter what role they played in the life of the deceased, will receive nothing.

A DOV can still be used if there is no will, allowing you to redirect money to other beneficiaries who otherwise would have had nothing.

This article is updated with the latest tips.

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