How to Write a Codicil to a Will

For those who want assurance that their assets will properly be distributed after they pass away, a last will is a common choice. With a will, an individual can specify the allocation of assets, beneficiaries, executors, guardianship for minors, and several other provisions. While wills are often considered unchangeable legal documents, this isn’t entirely accurate. Individuals can update and modify their wills in specific ways.

Your wishes for your last will and testament may also change as life circumstances change. Fortunately, some options can make changing a will relatively easy. One such option is by creating what is known as a “codicil” to a will. Read on to learn what a codicil to a last will and testament is, when it is appropriate to use one, and how to write and execute a codicil to a will. 

TrustHandled can make the process of writing a codicil to a will simple for all involved.


What is a Codicil to a Last Will and Testament?

A codicil to a will is essentially an amendment to an existing will. More specifically, codicils are separate legal documents added to wills, outlining specific changes or updates to the original will document. This allows the owner of the will, or “testator,” to adjust their last will and testament without creating an entirely new will. Codicils can modify or amend any of the information contained in the original will, including beneficiaries, assets, or executors, and can even revoke any of these provisions. 

A codicil must have all the same formalities as a will and must be signed, dated, and sometimes witnessed and/or notarized, just like a will. Below are some of the changes you might make to a will using a codicil document:

  • Executors or trustees: A codicil can be used to remove or replace an existing executor or trustee and appoint new executors or trustees.
  • Beneficiaries: A codicil can add, remove, or change the beneficiaries named in a will.
  • Assets: A codicil can add or remove assets from a will or change their distribution.
  • Bequests: Bequests, specific gifts of property or assets, can be changed, removed, or added via a codicil.
  • Guardians: A codicil can be used to change, replace, or remove guardians for minor children. 
  • Charitable donations: Any donations or gifts to charities or nonprofits can be changed using a codicil to a will.
  • Provisions for pets: A codicil can be used to add or change the appointment of guardians or other provisions for caring for pets named in a will.


When to Use a Codicil for a Will

Sometimes, changes in life circumstances, relationships, or assets may necessitate the adjustment of a will. However, there are a few different ways to change a will; the method most appropriate for you depends on your situation. For instance, another way to update a will is to start from scratch. Creating a whole new will may seem unnecessary, but it is the preferred choice for many people. Typically, those who need to make significant or extensive changes to their will should follow this route, as it can save time and effort in the long run.

Conversely, codicils to wills should be used to make only minor changes to a will. For example, if you merely want to update the name of your executor or add or remove a beneficiary, a codicil is a sufficient way to accomplish this task. Using a codicil to make changes to a will can be an efficient method for those looking to alter their estate plan but do not want to create an entirely new will. 

However, too many codicils can lead to confusion and increase the risk of errors or misunderstandings. Ultimately, the extent and number of changes you want to make should be the main factor in determining whether to use a codicil.


How Do I Write a Codicil to My Will?

If you are considering making updates or modifications to your will and believe these changes will be extensive, it may be best to create a new will. However, it may not be necessary to completely rewrite your will from scratch if you only want to change a few minor details. In this case, using a codicil to a will is preferable. To write a codicil to your last will and testament, follow the steps outlined below:

  • Begin writing your codicil by identifying the will you want to change. Include your name, address, the date it was created, and any other specific information, such as the title of the will, if applicable.
  • Write a clear statement that this document is a codicil to your will, and its purpose is to outline specific changes you want to apply to the original will.
  • State that you are of sound mind at the time of the codicil’s creation, and you are acting of your own volition, without outside influence or coercion.
  • Outline the specific provisions you’d like to amend from the original will. Be detailed and thorough to prevent the need for any future codicils.
  • Clearly state that this codicil shall take precedence over any conflicting statements from the original will.
  • As with your original will, sign, date, witness, and/or have your codicil notarized according to the applicable laws in your state.
  • Attach the codicil to the original will and store them safely.


Use TrustHandled as a Platform to Generate the Codicil to a Will

Making a codicil to a will can be a daunting task, and errors can render your codicil or will invalid. Fortunately, there are resources available that can help simplify the process. TrustHandled is a platform that provides users with various estate planning tools, including codicil templates. These templates allow users to fill out all their forms online and generate legal documents ready to be signed and notarized. 

Our straightforward guides and user-friendly interface cancel the need for professional legal help, saving you time and money on expensive attorney visits. Get started by creating your own TrustHandled account today!