‘Review wills’ warning following plans for changes

A legal expert is warning of the importance of regularly reviewing wills following proposals to change the way the important documents can be amended after someone’s death.

Currently, Deeds of Variation can be used under certain circumstances to allow the people who benefit from a Will to redirect their inheritance to another party. This is sometimes done to allow an inheritance to skip a generation, and it can also have tax benefits.

The government has announced a consultation into Deeds of Variation, arguing the process can be used to wrongly avoid tax.

Victoria Taylor, solicitor in the wills and estate planning team at Napthens solicitors, warns that the news means there has never been a more important time to make sure wills are up-to-date and regularly reviewed.

She explained: “Deeds of variation have been under the spotlight for some time, but have been used for many years as a legitimate and genuine way to solve problems, such as changes in circumstances which did not exist when a Will was drawn up.

“If Deeds of Variation are restricted it will be very important to ensure that when wills are first drawn up, they incorporate a greater level of flexibility as it may not be possible to change them following someone’s death as can currently be done.

“This also means that it is important to keep wills up-to-date to reflect major changes in circumstances. “It may be that these proposals are simply politics and we won’t see any changes, but the fact that the government is talking about them in this way means they certainly shouldn’t be relied upon for planning as they may have been in the past.”