What is a codicil?
Briefly, a codicil is a document that amends a will that was created beforehand. There is a compulsory clause in a valid will that says that all previous wills are revoked in favour of the present one so that there can be no confusion as to the true will. A codicil creates amendments or additions to a previously existing will. Normally, it is only used for minor changes such as appointing a different executor, but the codicil can replace the entire will if this is what is desired. It usually conforms to the same requirements as a complete will in that it needs to be signed by the testator and two or in some jurisdictions, three witnesses who do not have a material interest in the will as a beneficiary directly or indirectly.
What are some important issues to look out for with a codicil?
The reason that the revocation clause is crucial is that it means the difference between the document being considered a new will and merely a codicil. It is also crucial that a codicil is not signed by anyone who has a direct interest in the will, as this could actually extinguish their claim over the estate because the fact that they are a beneficiary would mean that the ‘will’ is invalid. Codicils can also sometimes be the subject of litigation because they are often signed in circumstances where the maker of the will may be aged with an infirm mind and may be under the influence of others to sign these documents. This can be fertile ground for others excluded from the estate to claim that there is foul play or fraud involved in the creation of the will. For this reason it is essential to have the will deposition process supervised by a qualified professional. Lawyers in most jurisdictions have the responsibility for probate work and this work can be performed wholly and exclusively by lawyers. If you would like to contact us about making a codicil or another wills and estates issue, please do not hesitate to drop us a line using the contact form or our lawyers are almost always available to chat during business hours.