Variation of Will or intestacy after death
Variation of Will or intestacy after death

The following Wills & Probate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Variation of Will or intestacy after death
  • Variations
  • Inheritance tax
  • Capital gains tax
  • Stamp taxes and variations
  • Stamp duty land tax
  • Stamp duty
  • Stamp duty relief
  • Income tax relief for variations
  • The deed of variation

For tax purposes registered same-sex couples are treated as spouses.


A legatee may alter the effect of a Will or the intestacy provisions by passing to someone else any property that the operation of a Will or the law of intestacy gives them.

Inheritance tax

A variation is an inter vivos transfer from a beneficiary of a deceased person. The beneficiary would be treated as making a transfer of value for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes were it not for section 142 Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (IHTA 1984).

The effect of inheritance tax relief

Where IHTA 1984, s 142(1) applies:

  1. IHT on the deceased's estate is calculated as if the variation had been effected by the deceased and

  2. the variation is not itself taxable as a transfer of value

There must be a variation

For the variation to be effective for IHT, the disposition must alter the destination of property in the deceased's estate.

The two-year rule

The variation must be made within two years of the deceased's death.

Property comprised in the deceased's estate

The subject-matter of the variation must be property in the deceased's estate immediately before their death.

A person's estate is defined in IHTA 1984, s 5.

The definition is modified for the purpose of IHTA 1984, s 142 relief where:

  1. excluded property is included in the deceased's estate

  2. settled property