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A codicil to will is a document that is used when changes are being made to an existing will.

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Codicil: What Is It?

A codicil to will is a document that is used when changes are being made to an existing will. This document is used in cases where the client does not want to completely replace their will, but they want to amend it to make relevant changes. The codicil can change one aspect of the will or many different things.

This legal document to change a will requires a lot of information about the existing will and the party that it belongs to. The codicil with need to be signed by the person making the changes and the owner of the original will in order to be put into place. A witness will be required to sign as well.

The codicil to will is an important legal document that requires accuracy and an understanding of will procedures. Legal counsel is typically used for a codicil to will, as it can be a lengthy document that requires an understanding of the laws that apply to wills.


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Legal Considerations of a Codicil to a Will

There are some legal terms that most people don't hear about until they find themselves in a position where they absolutely need to learn about it.  Codicils would probably fall into that category, as they're generally not an everyday topic of conversation.  Nevertheless, learning about this type of document is highly recommended because it could affect you or someone you know.

To put it as simply as possible, a codicil is a document that amends a will.  To amend means to make a minor change to, such as adding, changing a provision, or possibly even eliminating one or more provisions.  This is applied to a will that has already been executed, so it is not intended to replace the will and must not conflict with it in terms of its original legal requirements.

It is apparent that a codicil can have profound legal implications for all parties concerned.  From the standpoint of the testator, or the person making the will, it is a document that can alter the terms under which the will is executed after death.  As long as a testator is mentally competent, he or she should be able to make amendments, and it's a good thing that there's a document allowing this to occur.  Still, there is a legal consideration of whether an amendment should be made or whether an entirely new will should be drafted .  The answer primarily would depend on the magnitude of the amendment(s) being made; if they are minor changes that are few in number, then there is little reason to start over completely when a codicil would usually be quicker, easier, and more cost-effective.

This leads us to another legal consideration:  How can we differentiate a minor amendment from a major one?  The answer, in truth, comes from reading the will itself.  It's the original document that should guide you in deciding whether a particular change (or a set of changes) is going to drastically alter the terms and provisions contained therein.  Consider making a small change to the amount of a bequest contained in the original document, for instance; most people would regard that as a minor amendment.  In contrast, if a beneficiary were to be removed completely from the original document, that would most likely be regarded as a very major alteration.  Thus, it's not only a matter of degree, but also the nature of the amendment itself.

A highly significant consideration is whether the codicil will have legal force upon the death of the testator.  The last thing that the named beneficiaries need is a document that is legally void or ineffective in a court of law.  Just like the original document, the new amendment(s) written up in the form of the codicil should be prepared carefully and signed in the presence of multiple witnesses by the testator when he or she is deemed mentally competent.  The language contained in the document should be checked not only for proper legal wording, but also for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors; only an error-free document is truly acceptable.  To this end, it can be instructive to view samples by entering key phrases such as "codicil to will," "codicil template" and "codicil form" into a search engine and browsing through the resulting documents;  be aware, though, that some results will be better than others.

Using a codicil form is going to be a new and unfamiliar experience for the majority of us.  Nonetheless, this form may prove to be extremely useful at some point in the future.  For this reason, doing your research and paying attention to the details is, without a doubt, your best bet.

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