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Deed of variation checklist

Make it Legal™ Checklist

Here are a few important steps to take to finish your document

Read the document to make sure it meets your needs. Remember that if you have any questions you can easily Ask a lawyer.


The execution of a Deed of Variation involved multiple parties: the current beneficiary (ie you), the new beneficiary (or beneficiaries), the executor (or executors) to the will being varied and at least one witness.

  1. You must all be present throughout the process.

  2. A witness must be present when each party signs the Deed of Variation.

  3. Each witness must have mental capacity and should:

    1. not be under the age of 18

    2. not be a party to the Deed of Variation

Signing procedure

  1. Print out the Deed of Variation.

    You must print a copy of your deed and sign it physically. Deeds can legally be signed using electronic signatures, but extra care must be taken when signing electronically to ensure that all of the formalities for execution of the particular type of deed are met. This deed is, therefore, designed to be signed by hand (ie ‘wet-signed’) to ensure that it is executed correctly. You cannot sign online.
  2. All parties to the Deed of Variation (ie you, all beneficiaries, and all executors) must sign the document using their ‘usual’ signature where indicated whilst the witness watches.

  3. The witness should add, in the signer’s presence, their ‘usual’ signatures where indicated, asking them to print their names, addresses and occupations clearly for identification purposes.

A will can only be varied using a Deed of Variation within two years of the testator's death.

  • Keep the signed deed of variation for your records.

  • Send a copy of the deed of variation to all affected parties.

If the deed of variation does not change the amount of inheritance tax due, you do not need to send a copy to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

If the deed of variation includes variations to the will which result in more inheritance tax being payable, a copy of the deed of variation must be sent to HMRC within 6 months of it being made.

Please note that where more inheritance tax is payable as a result of the variation, you should speak to a tax advisor or lawyer specialised in inheritance and inheritance tax.

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