The term ‘codicil’ is commonly used in the legal world but what does it mean and is it the correct option for you? Laura Harrington-Rutterford, who oversees our private client department, explains.
It is highly recommended that you review your will regularly to make sure it states what you would like to happen in the event of your death. By doing so, you can make changes in an appropriate and timely manner, making sure your loved ones are secure in knowing that everything has been dealt with. This is where a codicil can help.
What is a codicil?
A codicil is a legal document that is signed and witnessed in the same way as a will and allows you to make amendments or official alterations to your existing will without having to write a new one. There is no limit on how many codicils you can add to your will and is often used as it’s the easiest and cheapest option when modifying your will.
However, there are some points that you may need to be aware of.
- Firstly, you need to make sure that the codicil is located with your will as they can be lost meaning questions could be raised over the original will.
- Secondly, there is no limit to how many codicils you can have on your will but the more there are, the more complicated it may become upon your death.
A tricky situation
Furthermore, and a point to note, upon obtaining grant of probate your will becomes public record including the codicils. This can cause a tricky situation, especially if you have written someone out of your will. If the removed beneficiary is still alive, they will be able to see via the codicil that you have removed them, which potentially leaves your will open to be contested. It may even cause bad feeling between your family members or other beneficiaries.
When to write a new will?
The above situation would be one where writing a new will may be the best option. Especially if you believe there may be some resulting tension from removing a beneficiary. By writing a new will, there will be no reference of previous wishes or resulting changes.
It is also suggested that if you want to make significant changes to your will, it would be better to write a new will, because, as stated above, it can become increasingly complicated if there are many codicils in place.