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What to Know About Codicils in Wills

If you have realized the need to make out a will, congratulations! Your loved ones will have the blessed benefit of knowing exactly how you want your property to be handled upon your death. It is one of the most caring things you can do for those you leave behind, however, a will that is never updated could only cause more confusion and stress. As your life changes, so should your will. These changes are often accomplished with a codicil, so read on to learn more about how these additions can affect your will.

What is a codicil?

The term is ancient, and came about back in the day when wills (and other written documents) had to be created laboriously with a quill and ink. Instead of redoing the entire document, an addition was created and added onto the original document. The word translates loosely to little codex, which means a little piece of written work.

How does a codicil affect a well?

In most cases, a codicil is meant to clarify a point or give greater detail to an issue. It can, however, completely change the terms of the will, if worded correctly. For example, if the codicil states that only the natural-born (or biological) children are included in the inheritances, it could potentially change the number of beneficiaries who can inherit property.

Why would a codicil be needed?

Even if you live the most boring life ever, you should probably revisit your will every few years, or as often as your estate attorney advises. You should pay particular attention to changes in family members, marriages, divorces, the acquisition or sale of property or a business, and other life-altering events. Notice how your attention for issues that you previously had an interest in has now waned, to be replaced by others; this could mean your choice of charity bequeaths could also change.

Should you just re-write the will?

Both wills and the codicils added to them require witnesses, and the advent of word processing programs and computer files means that wills are easier to re-write than ever before. No need to drag out the quill! For this reason, consider having the entire will re-done instead of adding a codicil. In a few key strokes you will be able to make the changes necessary and to ensure that your wishes are very clearly known.

To make changes to your will, speak resources that provide estate planning and traffic law services. Procrastinating this responsibility could mean untold confusion for your loved ones.