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What Is A Codicil?

Simply put, a codicil is an addition to a will. It does not change anything within the will, as it leaves everything as it was when it was witnessed, and it might be worth making a completely new will instead, if a codicil is going to make things complicated. However, it can be a useful tool in certain circumstances, when writing a completely new will is not an option.

A codicil is ideal for making minor changes to your original will. You can use them to change a beneficiary’s name (after a marriage or divorce, for example), or to change a specific bequest (including adding or removing them) when everything else remains the same.

For major changes, however, including removing a beneficiary completely, or adding a new spouse, or even deciding to leave a gift to charity instead of family (or family instead of charity, for that matter), then it would be a better option to create a new will  entirely.  Using a codicil to enact major changes such as these will mean a complicated and potentially confusing will, which is something to avoid whenever and wherever possible.

It is possible to add more than one codicil to a will. As circumstances change, as beneficiaries die (or as potential new ones are born), as the estate grows or diminishes, the provisions within a will will, necessarily, need to be amended. There are no limits to the number of codicils you can add, although eventually, if you find that there is a large number of them, it might be as well to simply create a new will. Wills should be updated every few years, so this would be a perfect opportunity to consolidate all of the codicils into an entirely new document.

Codicils are legally binding additions to a will only if they are properly witnessed, just like the original document. They can be hand written, literally added to the bottom (or back, or margin, it doesn’t matter) of your will, but unless the proper procedures are followed, they will at best be ignored, and at worst invalidate the entire will. Rather than worry about whether or not you have done it the way it should be done, why not get in touch with professionals who will be able to put your mind at rest that your will is absolutely correct? That’s what we’re here for, after all.

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