What is a codicil?
You’ve probably heard the word codicil before. Although it might sound like a complicated legal term, a codicil essentially is just a document that updates your will. However writing a codicil is not the only way you can update your will. For instance, many people would choose to write an entirely new will. The great thing in this case is that all will start by revoking any previous wills and codicils. As a result you never have to worry about your older wills.
In some cases it may be better to add a codicil to your will, and in other cases a new will is optimal. Modern estate planning allows you to update your will without the addition of a codicil, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Let’s start with the basics: adding a codicil.
How do I add a codicil to a will?
Making a codicil to a will is a simple process. First, read your current will and make note of the changes you want made or the mistakes you want fixed. What you have to do next is to use your notes from step one. You have to be as specific as possible to avoid any misunderstandings. Mention the full name of the article you are amending, exactly as it is written in your last will. This way any judge would be able to easily go back and forth between your Will and the codicils.
So this way you have simply put your updated wishes in writing by completing a codicil. Well done! We do recommend that you add a severability clause. At the very least, mention that the rest of your will not affected by the codicil should be executed as it your will dictates.
Just because you have written the codicil though, doesn’t mean that it is legally binding. In order for it to be legal you have to ask two witnesses to sign your codicil – exactly as you did for your last will.
Codicils VS Last Will
Technology has changed everything in our societies and estate planning is no exception. This has made codicils a relic of the past since they were particularly useful when will were handwritten. That meant that you could simply add a codicil instead of manually re-writing your entire Will – which often had dozens of pages.
As you may suspect that is not the case anymore since the vast majority of people don’t craft wills in handwritten form. Due to that, adding a codicil and making an entirely new will are not all that different anymore.
That being said, there are situations where codicils are the better choice out of the two, and vice versa.
Codicils & Last Will - Differences
Small changes are an indicator that you should go for a codicil. Such small changes include appointing a new beneficiary or deleting an existing one. Generally any changes and updates that can be contained in smaller parts of your Last Will call for codicils.
For instance, you can usually even add an entirely new provision to an article if it doesn’t affect the rest of your will. You can also alter the specific asset beneficiary would normally receive.
That’s not the case, however, if you plan to add an entirely new article, or a provision or paragraph that affects many other parts of your Will. If you are uncertain about how a new provision is going to affect the rest of the document, it’s always best to make a brand new will. This way you avoid having your will discounted by a probate court.
Speaking of the probate court, it’s important to know that you can only use the original signed version of your will. As a result, if at any point your original Last Will gets significantly damaged or you lose it, you need a new one. After all, a codicil isn’t going to work with a copy of the will.
Codicils & Last Will - Similarities
We discussed the main differences between creating a codicil versus creating a new will. But did you know that the two share certain similarities too?
For example, both a new codicil and a new will need to be signed by at least two witnesses. In some cases people want to use an affidavit when creating these too. That means that although writing a codicil is much faster than a new last will, you still have to find two appropriate witnesses to sign them.
Additionally, both a codicil and a new will often require further fees especially when lawyers are directly involved. And if you want to add codicils, it’s probably to ask a lawyer to have a look at your updated last will to make sure it doesn’t clash with any other element of the document. With lawyer rates varying between $100 to $400 per hour that doesn’t seem like a great option either.
But can you make these processes faster, easier and cheaper?
Myend: An easy way to update your Last Will
If you already have a Last Will, you can still add a codicil yourself. Just make sure you do it correctly otherwise it might not be legally binding. Otherwise you can ask a lawyer to do it for you.
With Myend’s Premium Plans you can easily edit your Last Will – circumventing the need to add codicils. In simple words, Myend offers a simple way to create, update and maintain a Last Will within minutes! This way we combine all the benefits of a codicil, without the hassle of getting a lawyer or paying additional codicil fees.
Read more about our Last Will here and if you want to start working with it right now make you sign up by clicking the orange button above!
A codicil can be a powerful tool you can use to make sure your Last Will remains updated. Another way to share your wishes is to create a new Last Will. But then that means you have to review and go through all the existing details. Not to mention the additional fees you have to pay in both cases.
Myend offers a cheaper, consistent alternative to codicils since we allow you to simply update your Last Will. Sign up for free to learn more about how it works!