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What is a Will codicil?

What are Will codicils and should you use them?

A codicil is one of the things that people often think of when they consider Wills but what exactly are they and how are they used?

More importantly, should you use a codicil for your Will?

What is a Will codicil?

When you make a Will you do so based on the assets and with the knowledge you have at the time.

However, life moves on and things that you have written in your Will can subsequently become outdated.

A codicil is simply an additional document that is designed as an update and is read in conjunction with the main Will.

In fact, you can have more than one codicil that can deal with different aspects of the original Will.

A codicil can change any aspect of your Will but it is primarily best used to change only small details that don’t need a full document to be rewritten.

Codicils developed due to the time and cost of making a traditional Will. Rather than writing a whole new document, which in some cases could run to many pages, it was much more convenient and more cost-effective to simply add in a codicil at the end.

When to use a codicil

There are no written rules regarding when you should or shouldn’t use a codicil rather than writing a whole new Will but in general, you’ll use it to make very minor changes around smaller aspects.

For instance, you may need to change or add executors if your current people are unable to serve.

Alternatively, if you have new, smaller assets that you wish to gift or if you have other minor wishes that you want to change then a codicil is appropriate.

For larger assets and making major changes such as marriage or divorce then you are better to make a whole new Will.

Important things to note about codicils

It is entirely possible, though not always desirable to add multiple codicils.

If there are a number of non-competing changes to make about completely separate issues then this may well be a workable option.

However, it is very important to remember that making multiple codicils could cause confusion and have the effect of making your wishes less clear.

In fact, if there is a dispute over a Will with many codicils then it is not unknown for a probate judge to rule the entire Will invalid. This will have the effect of dying intestate and your assets will be distributed according to the rules on intestacy. You can find a post about this here [internal link]

Codicils need to be kept with the Will to which they relate or it is entirely possible that they may be lost or forgotten.

Codicils need to be properly made. Simply writing on a copy of your Will does not suffice and could render the whole document invalid.

It’s a good move to inform your executors that you have made changes through a codicil and to talk through any effects of these so that they are clear about your intentions.

Making changes with Smart-Will

Codicils are really the old solution to the need to change your Will.

With the Smart-Will app, you can make lifetime changes to your Last Will and Testament and naturally, as this produces a new document each time it sidesteps the problems that people experience when using codicils.

With our app, all changes are free of charge and can be done in minutes meaning that you can be sure that your wishes are clear and fully recorded.



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