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LEGAL DICTIONARY

Codicil

What Is a Codicil?

A codicil is an amendment or addendum to a last will and testament. This legal document does not replace the previously executed will; it only alters specific provisions of it.

The purpose of a codicil is to keep the corresponding last will and testament current with the testator’s wishes. This document is best used when the changes, additions, or deletions are minor and uncomplicated. Otherwise, it may be a better option to draft a new will and testament.

Similar to a will, a codicil can be challenged using similar grounds as a challenge to a will. In the result of a successful challenge, the codicil will be deleted and the original version of the will will be used.

What Is an Example of a Codicil?

After you create your last will and testament, many situations may arise that require you to make minor changes to the document. By using a codicil, you do not need to draft an entirely new document. Here are a few typical codicil examples:

  • Name change of a listed beneficiary due to marriage or divorce
  • Addition of a beneficiary, including a child or a new spouse
  • Deletion of a beneficiary
  • Changing the executor or naming an additional executor
  • Naming someone to care for pets upon your death
  • New or additional end-of-life instructions, including funeral or burial arrangements
  • Distribution of property not mentioned in the will

Unlike a trust, which takes effect as soon as you sign the documents and fund it, a will does not go into effect until after your death. Therefore, someone who is mentally competent can modify their last will with a codicil at any time.

How Much Does a Codicil Cost?

The cost of a codicil can vary, depending on whether you make the changes on your own or hire the services of a lawyer. Other factors are the complexity of the changes you wish to make and the laws of the state where you live.

Does a Codicil Have to Be Notarized?

You do not have to get your codicil notarized. However, legal requirements vary for the document from state to state, with most states requiring two witnesses to sign a codicil.

These independent witnesses must be over the age of 18 and cannot be related or married to anyone mentioned either in the will or codicil. The witnesses also must not be executors of your will.

Some states allow codicils to be notarized at a public notary.

How Many Codicils Can a Will Have?

There is no legal limit on the number of codicils to a will. However, if multiple codicils are necessary over time, a new will and testament may be needed to avoid any confusion. In some cases, multiple codicils can lead to probate issues for your beneficiaries.

What Information Must Be Included in a Codicil?

You must put your updated wishes for your will in writing. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Begin by writing an opening statement that gives your name and address, the date, and a declaration that you are of sound mind.
  2. Then, identify the article number of your will that you want to be changed or removed.
  3. Conclude with a statement that the codicil overrules anything stated in your original will but that all other information not covered by the codicil remains intact.
  4. Finally, add the signatures: your signature, the signature of two independent witnesses, as well as the date they signed the codicil.

These are the basic requirements to create your own codicil, other legal requirements can vary by state.

Helpful Resources:
National Law Review - Challenging a Codicil to a Will

What Is a Codicil?

A codicil is an amendment or addendum to a last will and testament. This legal document does not replace the previously executed will; it only alters specific provisions of it.

The purpose of a codicil is to keep the corresponding last will and testament current with the testator’s wishes. This document is best used when the changes, additions, or deletions are minor and uncomplicated. Otherwise, it may be a better option to draft a new will and testament.

Similar to a will, a codicil can be challenged using similar grounds as a challenge to a will. In the result of a successful challenge, the codicil will be deleted and the original version of the will will be used.

What Is an Example of a Codicil?

After you create your last will and testament, many situations may arise that require you to make minor changes to the document. By using a codicil, you do not need to draft an entirely new document. Here are a few typical codicil examples:

  • Name change of a listed beneficiary due to marriage or divorce
  • Addition of a beneficiary, including a child or a new spouse
  • Deletion of a beneficiary
  • Changing the executor or naming an additional executor
  • Naming someone to care for pets upon your death
  • New or additional end-of-life instructions, including funeral or burial arrangements
  • Distribution of property not mentioned in the will

Unlike a trust, which takes effect as soon as you sign the documents and fund it, a will does not go into effect until after your death. Therefore, someone who is mentally competent can modify their last will with a codicil at any time.

How Much Does a Codicil Cost?

The cost of a codicil can vary, depending on whether you make the changes on your own or hire the services of a lawyer. Other factors are the complexity of the changes you wish to make and the laws of the state where you live.

Does a Codicil Have to Be Notarized?

You do not have to get your codicil notarized. However, legal requirements vary for the document from state to state, with most states requiring two witnesses to sign a codicil.

These independent witnesses must be over the age of 18 and cannot be related or married to anyone mentioned either in the will or codicil. The witnesses also must not be executors of your will.

Some states allow codicils to be notarized at a public notary.

How Many Codicils Can a Will Have?

There is no legal limit on the number of codicils to a will. However, if multiple codicils are necessary over time, a new will and testament may be needed to avoid any confusion. In some cases, multiple codicils can lead to probate issues for your beneficiaries.

What Information Must Be Included in a Codicil?

You must put your updated wishes for your will in writing. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Begin by writing an opening statement that gives your name and address, the date, and a declaration that you are of sound mind.
  2. Then, identify the article number of your will that you want to be changed or removed.
  3. Conclude with a statement that the codicil overrules anything stated in your original will but that all other information not covered by the codicil remains intact.
  4. Finally, add the signatures: your signature, the signature of two independent witnesses, as well as the date they signed the codicil.

These are the basic requirements to create your own codicil, other legal requirements can vary by state.

Helpful Resources:
National Law Review - Challenging a Codicil to a Will