A Codicil is a legal document that changes specific provisions of a Will but leaves all of the other provisions unchanged. As long as you are mentally competent, you can change, modify, update, or completely revoke your Will at any time. But the question is, when should you make a Codicil and when should you write an entire new Will?
Making Minor Changes
There are no written rules as to when a Codicil is more appropriate than making a whole new Will. The general rule is that if the changes that you want to make are minor – adding or deleting specific bequests, changing who will serve as Executor, updating a beneficiary’s or an Executor’s legal name due to marriage or divorce – then a simple Codicil will cover these type of changes.
Making Major Changes
On the other hand, if the changes that you want to make are significant – adding a new spouse as a beneficiary, completely cutting out a beneficiary, changing from distributions to family members to distributions to charity or vice versa – then a new Will should be considered.
What About Multiple Codicils?
What if you’ve made a series of three or four simple Codicils over the past 10-15 years and you want to make another minor change? Then consider consolidating all of your changes into a brand new Last Will – this will prove to be helpful to your Executor who will have a single document to follow instead of piecing together the provisions of four or five separate documents.
The Legalities of Codicils
If you’re considering making a change to your Will, please don’t simply mark up your Last Will and stick it back in the drawer. Why? Because a Codicil must be signed with the same formalities as the original Will, so your hand written changes could either void the Will or be ignored. Instead, ask us to prepare the Codicil for you so that it will be legally valid and binding on all of your beneficiaries. It doesn’t matter if we did not draft your current Will.