"Codicil" is an addition to an existing will. When circumstances change or an individual changes his or her mind, it can be costly to create a new will. If the desired modification or addition is not complex, a codicil is the simplest and least expensive way to update a will. Frequently, codicils are used to add or remove provisions from an existing will. Codicils will be created in accordance with all of the legal requirements for making an original. Consider the following codicil definition to further explore this.

What is a Codicil, Codicil Definition and Codicil to Will
Codicil Definition 

The addition of a supplement, amendment, addition, or explanation to an existing Will (Last Will and Testament).

What is a Codicil?

A codicil is any type of addendum to a will. Codicils can alter, modify, add to, or remove provisions from a will. They can be used to maintain a will's currency and accuracy.

A codicil is an official addition or deletion to an existing will, as a will cannot be physically altered after it has been signed and witnessed. Although there are no laws regarding when a codicil can or should be used to modify a will, it is commonly used when the modifications are minor. These alterations may involve adding or removing words.

These modifications may include the addition or deletion of gifts or the substitution of a personal representative. When significant changes are required, such as adding a new spouse as a beneficiary or removing a previously named beneficiary, it is recommended to create a new will. A person must be mentally competent in order to create a will or codicil.

About Codicil

Codicils must be drafted by the will's original author. They are separate documents that can result in either minor or significant changes to the will. All codicils must meet the same administrative and legal requirements as the original will, and they must each attest that the original will is valid with the exception of the alterations outlined within.

Codicils derive their name from the Middle English term codicill, which is derived from the Anglo-French codicille and the Latin codicillus, which meant a writing tablet and book, respectively. Therefore, the term codicil translates to the literal meaning of a small codex or book, which is a small amount of writing on a small piece of writing material used to add to or alter a larger written work. In this instance, the codicil adds, subtracts, or modifies the terms of a will. The use of a codicil dates back to 1400 B.C., when an heir had to be named, for instance.

Example of a Codicil

Even though a codicil is technically an addendum to the original will, it can completely alter or nullify the original will's terms. Due to the gravity of codicils and their ability to alter the entire will, two witnesses are typically required to sign when a codicil is added, just as they were when the original will was created. Some states, however, have relaxed the legal requirements for codicils and now permit them to be notarized before a public notary.

You may be familiar with codicils from movie scenes in which a codicil to a will is dramatically revealed at the last minute, shocking family members. In reality, however, codicils produce little drama and are typically used for minor changes that do not warrant drafting a new will. Some legal experts believe that if changes are warranted, a new will should be drafted rather than relying solely on a codicil, especially since many of the legal procedures are similar.

How does one write a codicil to a will?

Eventually, it's likely that you'll need to make changes or adjustments to your will. A codicil is an option for making these changes.

What is a codicil to a will?

A codicil is a legal document that serves as an addition to a will. It allows you to make changes to your will without rewriting the entire original document.

Before the advent of personal computers, codicils were more common. In the past, revising your will required rewriting the entire document by hand, which could be time-consuming. Codicils could expedite this process, as you would only need to rewrite the sections you wish to modify. Since online tools have made it easier to update your will, codicils are now less common. However, depending on your preferences, they can be a useful method for making minor changes to your will.

What I can do in a codicil to a will?

You can use a codicil to make minor changes to your will, such as:

• Changing your executor

• Updating beneficiaries — adding new ones or removing existing ones

• Updating your gifts to a beneficiary — you can add or remove gifts, or change the amount

• Updating your guardian selection  is important, if you have children under 18

• Updating your guardian selection, if you have children under 18

Consider rewriting your will if you need to make numerous changes or if you already have a codicil to avoid confusion with your documents.

How to write a codicil to a will?

Since a codicil is a legal document, you must adhere to the following guidelines when writing one:

1. Declare that the document is an addendum to the will.

2. Include important identifying information, similar to a will:

·       Your full name and address. This makes it clear that the codicil is yours.

·       The date and year. This assists the court in determining to which will document the codicil pertains. For instance, if you added a codicil to your existing will and then two years later drafted an entirely new will, your original codicil would no longer be applicable.

·       A declaration that you are of sound mind and not under the influence of anyone else.

3. Explain precisely which provisions of your will are being altered by your codicil. For instance, you may wish to replace your spouse as executor with your son. Use full legal names when referring to people, clearly state dollar amounts or percentages, and provide a thorough description of the property.

4. Include a statement indicating that your codicil should supersede your original will. Then, include a statement that any provisions of your will that are not altered by the codicil should remain valid.

5. Sign and have your codicil witnessed in accordance with your state's laws, just as you would with a will.

Place the signed codicil in the same secure location as your will.

Can I have multiple codicils to my will?

Yes. There is no legal limit on the number of codicils you may add to your will. Adding multiple codicils can, however, increase the likelihood of contradictions and cause confusion among your loved ones. It would defeat the purpose of having a will if it were contested in court or thrown out entirely if it were difficult to comprehend.

The objective is to have an easy-to-understand will that outlines your wishes precisely. If you have difficulty keeping track of your codicils and the modifications you've made, it may be time to rewrite your will. Using simple, secure tools, such as our free online will-maker, you can draft a new will in as little as twenty minutes.

Does a codicil require a notarization?

In nearly all states, notarization is not required for codicils to be legally binding. Louisiana is the sole exception, as it is the only state that currently requires a notary for wills and codicils.

Your codicil, like your will, must be witnessed in order to be a valid legal document. State laws regarding witnesses vary, but the majority of states require two witnesses when a document is signed. Your witnesses must be disinterested, meaning they are not mentioned in your will and will not inherit anything.

Due to the fact that codicils and wills have the same witnessing requirements, writing a codicil does not typically save much time. For this reason, many individuals choose to simply rewrite their wills whenever they need to make modifications.

Can I make changes to my will by handwritten edits?

No estate attorney recommends making handwritten changes to a will, such as crossing out portions or adding new information. (They also do not suggest writing your will by hand.)

A holographic codicil is a handwritten amendment to a will. They are not recognized in all states. Even where they are permitted, these modifications are confusing and difficult to prove, which can result in a court challenge to your will.

Should I add a codicil to my will or rewrite it?

This choice depends on your individual preferences. However, since it is now simpler to rewrite an entire will, codicils are no longer as useful as they once were.

If you need to make a number of substantial changes to your will, or if you already have a codicil, estate attorneys typically recommend rewriting it. The objective is to have a will that is easy to read and comprehend, so use your best judgment. If your will and codicils become unclear to you, they will likely be unclear to your executor and family members. Consider starting over by rewriting your will from scratch.

Requirement for a Codicil to a Will

By definition, a codicil does not replace the original will. Rather, it serves as an amendment, for which it must satisfy certain legal requirements. A codicil, for instance, must contain the testator's signature and the signatures of two or three witnesses who are not parties to the will. While many states require all signatures to be made in the presence of a notary public, other states permit the testator to sign in the presence of a notary public without witnesses.

The purpose of these stringent signature requirements is to prevent unauthorized parties from altering a will. When a codicil is added to a will, it should be filed alongside the original document. The filing of a will and any codicils with the local probate court may help prevent future confusion, but it is not necessary.

Codicil Form

A codicil form must comply with the legal requirements of the filing state. A few states accept handwritten codicil forms, but this is not the norm and a judge may deem them invalid. Regardless of the form, a codicil must contain specific information, including the exact provision it modifies. The codicil form should be dated, and it is prudent to indicate that no other provisions of the will are being altered. Due to the complexity of drafting wills and codicils, many individuals find it advantageous to hire an attorney with expertise in estate planning or probate law.

Codicil Sample

A codicil sample is accessible online at numerous estate planning websites. Although sample codicil forms may vary in appearance, they all contain the same fundamental information. A local attorney may be able to provide a codicil sample form as well as assistance with the creation of a will or codicil for individuals who are inexperienced in creating wills or their amendments. An example of a basic codicil is as follows:

What is a Codicil, Codicil Definition and Codicil to Will


What is a Codicil, Codicil Definition and Codicil to Will

Revoking a Previously Created Codicil

Occasionally, especially when frequent changes are made to a will, a codicil itself must be altered or revoked. A new codicil must then specify the revocation of the previous one. This is done to prevent courts from applying the earlier codicil against the testator's wishes.

Pros and cons of adding a codicil to a will

Life can be unpredictable, and as your situation changes, you may wish to amend your will with an addendum or codicil that clarifies, modifies, or revokes a will or a portion thereof.

Writing a codicil has the advantage of avoiding the need to draft a new will and is frequently the less expensive option. There is a risk that your executors will overlook your codicil if it is not stored with your will in a secure location, such as your home safe, the office of your solicitors or will writing service, or settled with the Probate Service. For this purpose, codicils are preferred for minor additions or amendments, while a new will is more appropriate for major changes. As a result, a probate court may be required to adjudicate your will.

What is a Codicil, Codicil Definition and Codicil to Will

Do I need to change my will?

Adding a codicil to your will may seem like something you'd rather avoid, but there are good reasons to do so:

• If an executor has passed away and you wish to appoint a new one.

• If you marry, your marriage will revoke your will if you reside in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, but not Scotland.

• You wish to make minor changes to your wishes and assets, such as because your financial situation has changed.

• Following the birth of children or grandchildren, you wish to update your will to reflect their inheritance.

• If you wish to update your funeral or cremation preferences.

• You get divorced. Divorce does not invalidate a will, but in England and Wales, your ex-husband/wife or civil partner would not inherit from it.

How to change your will

If you need assistance adding a codicil to your will, you can appoint a lawyer to modify your legal document. Online will-writing services, on the other hand, can save you money and frequently include both a self-service option and a legal review. Using an online service eliminates the need to visit a lawyer, while telephone support is still available if necessary. Some online services permit you to make an unlimited number of modifications to your will for a flat fee. Remember to inform your executors of the existence of the codicil. Similar to a will, your codicil must be signed and witnessed by two people, although you do not need to use the same witnesses for both documents.

Writing a new will

If you wish to make substantial or numerous changes to your will, you may be better off drafting a new will from scratch. To avoid confusing your executors, you should destroy your old will and any copies of it. You should ensure that the new will clearly revokes any previous versions and codicils, regardless of whether you write the will online or through a traditional lawyer. Additionally, it should maintain the validity of any other legal documents in your name, including such assets protected by another will.

Adding a codicil to a will is a simple and effective way to make minor changes to a will while the testator is still alive.

How to execute a codicil?

Similar to a will, a codicil must be written and attested by two witnesses. As a codicil is a part of the Will, the provisions of the Will must be considered when interpreting the codicil, and vice versa. Similar to a Will, a codicil may be amended, supplemented, and clarified by another codicil through proper execution and witness attestation.

Codicil Recommendation

In most instances, it is simpler to create a new Will than to amend an existing one. Adding clauses such as "I revoke all previous testamentary dispositions" to a new Will is preferable to creating a codicil, which could lead to confusion.

If a codicil is created as an addendum to an existing Will, it must be kept with the Will and properly attested. It is recommended that a professional review any codicil to avoid discrepancies or conflicts with the Will.