Deed of variation

What’s a deed of variation and what are they used for?

A deed of variation, in simple terms, is a formal legal document which is drafted and intended to vary another formal document, generally also drafted as a deed.

Under English law, historically, certain types of documents had to be drafted as deeds, complying with certain requirements including formalities and wording. Generally speaking such a document needs to specify it has been prepared as a deed, has to have certain forms of execution (signature) clauses at the end and has to be witnessed.

The most common uses for a deed of variation relate to property and wills.

Property deed of variation

In property terms, a deed of variation for a lease may be needed in a variety of situations. These include where there is an error in a lease such as where the plan is inaccurate but, more commonly, long residential leases may need to be varied to satisfy current mortgage lenders.

A long lease of a flat may have been drafted 50 years ago or more. At that time, the terms of these lease were standard and mortgage lenders of the time were satisfied with them. However, mortgage lenders have changed their criteria and this can mean that a lease needs to be varied to be acceptable to them.

A deed of variation is also, technically, part of the process for lease extensions which are also very common, especially in London where there are many thousands of flats in converted houses where leases are long but now have less than 90 years remaining.

If you need advice or a solicitor for a deed of variation for your property related interest or a lease, we are experienced and efficient. Please contact us to discuss.

Deed of variation of a will

Changing a will on the face of it goes against the whole purpose of making a will, which is for the person making it to have their intentions respected and for certainty and clarity. As a result, it is not straightforward for a will to be altered post death.

The main reason for a will being changed is that beneficiaries agree on an adjustment of the legacies made in the will and the 2 main reasons this might happen are :-

  1. To reduce inheritance tax;
  2. Where someone has been left out of the will.

Even if the proposed change is only to a gift made to 1 beneficiary who requests the change and other beneficiaries are unaffected, all beneficiaries must agree to the variation and so must the executors. There is a 2 year time limit for the deed to be in place after death.

If you need solicitors in London for advice on or to prepare and deal with  a deed of variation if a will, please contact us.


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