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HMRC internal manual

Capital Gains Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Variations: instruments of variation: general

A person who executes an instrument of variation in relation to a will or intestacyprovisions gives up his or her right to receive assets or interests or a share of theresidue that he or she would otherwise have received. In addition the person givesdirections as to how the assets etc. involved shall devolve following the variation. Ifthe estate is governed by a will the instrument does this by deeming certain clauses tohave been removed from the will and certain other clauses to have been inserted in theirplace. For intestacies it does it by deeming assets to pass under a will having clausescontaining the new conditions. Strictly speaking however the instrument of variation doesnot actually vary the will itself, but only the effects of the will. Therefore it does nothave retrospective effect as regards third parties, e.g. HMRC, except to the extent thatstatute, TCGA92/S62 or IHTA84/S142 so provides.

Further guidance on instruments of variation can be found at IHTM35011 onwards. (It isprobably most convenient to start at the contents page, IHTM35000.)

Simple guidance can be found in the Customer Guide to Inheritance Tax on the HMRC Internetsite.

Although in many cases a deed may be necessary to achieve the desired legal effect inEngland, Wales and Northern Ireland, because of the absence of consideration in mostcases, the relevant legislation uses the word ‘instrument in writing’.