A codicil is a legal document that is used to modify, amend, or supplement an existing last will. It is an addition to the original will rather than a complete replacement. A codicil allows a testator (the person who made the original will) to make minor changes to their will without having to create an entirely new will.
Common reasons for using a codicil include updating beneficiaries, changing the distribution of assets, appointing new executors or guardians, or revoking specific provisions of the original will. Codicils must comply with the same legal requirements as wills, such as being in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed by two individuals (formalities chnage depending on the applicable laws in various jurisdictions).
While codicils can be useful for making minor changes, if significant changes or a complete revision of the will are needed, it is often advisable to create a new will altogether to avoid potential confusion or conflicts between the original will and multiple codicils. Additionally, if a testator has made multiple codicils over time, it can become complicated to interpret their final wishes, which is why updating the entire will may be a better option in such cases.
In any event, you may consider creating a codicil when they have an existing will and want to make specific, minor changes to it. Here are some situations where you might choose to use a codicil:
- Minor Updates: When there are minor changes to be made in the original will, such as updating the names of beneficiaries, changing the distribution of assets, or adding or removing specific bequests.
- Change in Personal Circumstances: If there have been changes in your personal life, such as the birth of a child or the death of a beneficiary, and you need to adjust the will accordingly.
- Addition of New Assets: When you acquire new assets after creating the original will and want to include them in the distribution.
- Appointment of New Executors or Guardians: If you want to change the appointed executor or guardian for your minor children.
- Correcting Errors: When there are minor errors or omissions in the original will that need to be rectified.
Regardless of whether you choose to have a codicil or a new will made, you should seek guidance from an experienced estate planning lawyer. They can ensure that the document adheres to the legal requirements and accurately reflects your intentions and preventing any issues during the probate process.