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What Is a Codicil, and How Is It Used to Change a Last Will and Testament?

One of the best things you can do to plan for your future and take care of your loved ones is to establish a last will and testament. However, circumstances in your life may change over time and render your original will specifications to be irrelevant or undesirable.

You can make changes and updates to your will with a specific legal document called a codicil, but this may not be the best option for everyone. Here is an overview of what using a codicil for updating your will entails and where to turn for legal help to change the details of your will.

What Is a Codicil?

A codicil is a legal document that alters specific provisions of your will, while leaving other provisions to remain in their original form. It is possible to add a codicil to your will at any time that you are in a competent state of mind, and they are typically used to make minor changes rather than large or broad ones.

Reasons to Add a Codicil to Will

Individuals may update a last will and testament with a codicil for a many different reasons, such as changing burial wishes or adding a beneficiary. Other possible reasons are if the executor of the will has passed away, if guardianship details for minor children must be changed, or if your financial assets and liabilities have increased or decreased significantly.

Benefits of Updating Your Will with a Codicil

A codicil is an attractive choice when you have only very minor updates to add to a will because this process is often quicker and more affordable than rewriting your entire will from start to finish. It may also be easier and less labor-intensive for you to make just one minor addendum rather than going through the entire will with your estate attorney. A codicil is a straightforward document that must be executed with the same requirements as the will itself.

Challenges of Adding a Codicil to Will

However, a downside of the codicil is that it can leave room for confusing interpretation of your intentions and result in a decision after your death that you would not have chosen. Therefore, it may be in your best interests to rewrite and refile your entire will to ensure that your wishes are fully understood and completely followed. This is especially true if you are making multiple updates or crucial changes to a last will and testament. Thanks to modern will-generation software and technology, it may be just as affordable to create a new will as it is to add a complex codicil.

Legal Help with Your Codicil

The process of adding a codicil to a last will and testament involves initially drafting the document, either by yourself or with the help of an experienced estate lawyer. It is also necessary to have witnesses present to sign the codicil to make it legal and official. It is not typically sufficient to just add handwritten notes to your will to make changes because this can invalidate your entire will in a court of law. Instead, specific legal guidelines must be followed to ensure it is legally binding and valid.

Whether you are looking to add a codicil for minor will changes or have your will completely rewritten to establish major changes, Alatsas Law Firm can help. We are estate and trust lawyers in Brooklyn who specialize in these types of matters and will be happy to assist you. Contact the skilled attorneys at Alatsas Law Firm today at 718-233-2903, or start an online chat with us on our website.