Death and Personal Representatives: General introduction and background: Varying devolution of estate voluntarily
A legatee or legatees of an estate may decide that they do not wish certain assets from the estate to pass to them. One very common reason for this is to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax payable by the Estate. This can be achieved by the legatee or legatees executing a deed of disclaimer or a deed of variation.
If a deed of disclaimer is used the legatee simply gives up the right to receive the bequest. The assets covered by that bequest then have to be dealt with in accordance with the remaining terms of the will or of the rules on intestacies.
If a deed of variation is used the legatee involved not only gives up the right to receive the asset but can also direct to whom the asset should pass.
Where deeds of disclaimer and/or deeds of variation are validly made whilst the assets involved are still in the hands of the personal representatives then at the end of the period of administration the assets pass in accordance with the variation. This is normally organised by the personal representatives. If variations are made after the personal representatives have distributed the assets it is for the parties involved to redistribute the assets.