After you write your will, there may come a time when you might change your mind about some of its provisions and instructions. Instead of scrapping your will and writing a new one from scratch to make few minor changes, using a codicil to a will might be more practical.
What is a codicil to a will?
A codicil is a legal document that allows you to change your will without rewriting the entire document. You may use it to remove parts of the will or add additional provisions. It must be executed with the same procedure as any will, that is, in person with witnesses.
What might you use a codicil for?
You can use a codicil to make certain types of modifications to your will. The following are some examples:
- Updating your beneficiaries
- Changing the amounts your beneficiaries may receive
- Correcting specific details in your will
After finishing the codicil, it should be kept with your will. If it does not accompany your will, the probate court will honor only the original contents.
Should you rewrite the will instead?
If you are making significant changes to your will, especially removing the names of people identified in the original will, or reducing the benefits they may receive, rewriting the document can avoid confusion and eliminate complications in the probate process. Multiple codicils may create confusion that a new will can avoid.
A codicil remains an acceptable method for making minor alterations to your will. Whether you use it or decide to rewrite your will altogether, it would be wise to consult an estate planning attorney before you do. Your lawyer can guide you on changing your will so that it remains clear and enforceable and effectively carries out your wishes.