A Brief Introduction About the Codicil to Will
A will is a document through which a person lays out his wishes as to how his property and other assets shall be distributed among his beneficiaries after his death. Not everyone is aware of what is a codicil to a will. It is one of the methods by which a person can amend and update his will. The answer to the question of what is a codicil to last will lies in the codicil definition. It is defined as “an addition to an existing will to add, remove, or modify the provisions of such will.
” A codicil to will is a document through which one can alter certain specific provisions of one’s will without revoking the will. A will can be amended at any time after it is made provided the testator is mentally competent. When a person wishes to alter the terms of his will, he can create a codicil to change one or more parts of the will. Such a codicil will be considered to be an extension of the original will. This document proves to be extremely useful when the testator wishes to make some small changes in his will.
Who Takes the Codicil to Will – People Involved
This codicil to will is created by the testator who made the original will. The codicil has to be created by the same person who has created the will that is being amended. He signs the codicil after he has written it and it is after that signed by witnesses.
Purpose of the Codicil to Will – Why Do You Need It?
The purpose of such a codicil is to amend an earlier will. Hence there is no need to draft a new will each time there is some minor change that has to be made in the original will. A person may wish to change his will when he acquires a certain new property, or he wishes to change the name of a certain beneficiary under the will. It will be a tedious process to write a new will each time there is some minor alteration to be done. Hence such a codicil is very useful. The testator can mention which clause he wishes to alter and what changes are to be made therein.
Creating a codicil to will seeks to simplify the process of modification of a will. A person may create his will at a young age. In such a case, he will wish to modify it when he gets married or when he has children. He can add or remove a beneficiary easily through such a codicil. He can also change the executor of his will if he so desires.
Contents of the Codicil to Will – Inclusions
The title of the codicil should be the same as the original will with the words “codicil to the” added before the title. Hence if the title of the will is “Last will of Mr. X,” the codicil should be titled “Codicil to the Last will of Mr. X.”
The codicil should first mention the name, age, and address of the testator as it is mentioned in the original will. A different person can not make the codicil. The date and place where the codicil to will is being made should be mentioned. Once this is done, the clause or clauses that have to be amended should be listed out.
The number of the provision that is being modified and what the amended clause will state should be laid down. If multiple terms are being altered, the number of each requirement along with how the new clause will read should be set forth. There should be no mismatch in the clause numbers as it will then lead to doubt about the authenticity of the will.
Towards the end, the testator should include a statement that says if there is any contradiction in terms of the will and the terms of the codicil, the terms of the codicil will be considered to override those of the will. Otherwise, if the terms of the codicil conflict with those of the codicil, it could lead to the will be invalidated.
How to Draft the Codicil to a Will
The following are the steps on how to write a codicil to a will:
- The testator should make a list of what changes he wishes to incorporate in the will.
- Accordingly, he should start drafting the codicil while making sure that the amendments are well explained while referring to the clauses in the original will.
- The testator must then sign the codicil in the presence of at least two witnesses.
- After that, the witnesses must sign the codicil in each other’s presence. The witnesses need not be the same ones that signed the will.
- It is always recommended to get the codicil notarized as this helps to prove the authenticity of the document.
- The codicil should be stored along with the will so that it is easily accessible.
[Also Read: Pour Over Will]
Benefits and Drawbacks of the Codicil to Will
The following are the benefits and drawbacks of a codicil to a will:
- A major benefit is that a codicil to will can be used when some small changes are to be made to a will. It preempts the need to draft a new will only for some minor changes.
- It is a relatively straightforward process for a testator to change the name of a beneficiary or to add specific details that he deems necessary.
- A drawback is that a codicil to will is not recommended to write a codicil when a significant change has to be made to a will. In such a case, it is better to write a new will that incorporates all of the changes in one document itself.
- If the testator has made more than two codicils to his will, it can be challenging for the executor to go through all the documents to determine the intention of the testator. If this is the case, it is better if the testator drafts a new will that makes his wishes clear. This will make the job of the executor easier.
In conclusion, a codicil to a will is a beneficial document. Through this document, it is straightforward for the testator to incorporate certain changes to his will. He can do so in an effortless manner and then attach the codicil to his original will. This makes it easy for the executor to go through the will and codicil together and determine the intention of the testator.
However, in today’s times, most wills are saved in an electronic format(1). In such cases, it has been seen that people prefer to make a new will altogether as this can be easily done on a computer. A codicil to the will was mainly used in the days when a will was created using a typewriter as it was tedious to type out a new will.