Let’s say that you and your wife finally got all your estate planning ducks in a row. You met with an attorney, had your questions answered, and when all the dust settled, you had a carefully-crafted last will and testament. But that was several years ago. A few things have changed in your life, and now you are worried that you’ll have to start over.
As long as you are only making minor changes, you will not need to start from scratch. This is what a codicil is for.
A codicil is a legal document that allows you and your spouse to modify, revoke, clarify, or update specific provisions in your will without having to crumple up the original document and craft a new one. Wills are meant to be reviewed and possibly changed every 3 to 5 years, anyway. In many of those cases, it is far easier for everyone involved to add a codicil or amendment to a will than rewriting the entire document.
A few scenarios where a codicil may be appropriate include:
- Adding or deleting an executor
- The birth of a new child
- Accounting for a name change
- The death of a beneficiary
- The addition of stepchildren
- Divorce or marriage
- Adding provisions for a new trust
Determining whether or not you need a codicil
A will is considered a living, breathing document. In other words, it is meant to be altered over time to fit your needs and accounts for every possible scenario — now and into the future. The first step in determining whether or not you need a codicil is to schedule a review with your estate planning attorney. This is an opportunity to have an open conversation about the existing document, what has changed in your life, and what might need to be changed. If there is a need to make sweeping changes to the original document, you are probably better off starting anew. But if you are happy with your will and only need to change specific wording or provisions, a codicil allows you to do that.
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Amending a will with a codicil is a common practice for those who need to make minor changes. If you find that you are utilizing several codicils over the course of a few years, you may eventually consider rewriting the entire will. Your estate planning attorney can help answer all these questions and ensure you are making the best decisions.
Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC a call if you have any further questions regarding this or any other issue. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A Nelson, click here.