Codicils: what is a codicil, making minor changes to a will

What is a codicil to a will?

A codicil is an additional document used to make minor changes, amendments or alterations to an existing will.  The codicil document must be signed in front of witnesses in the same way as for a will, see below. Once completed the codicil is kept with that will.  More than one codicil may be made.

An example of a minor amendment is when someone wants to change their executor/s and/or trustee/s or appoint a new one.  Another situation might be if you want to change a beneficiary.  Otherwise lawyers tend to prefer that a new will is made, so as to avoid potential difficulties down the track with interpretation and extra costs.  

Legal validity of a codicil

It is important to note that to be legally valid a codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as for a will.

Codicil to an existing will or a new will?

As described already, codicil is a short document which may be used when only a minor change is required to a will.  If the will was made a long time ago, it may be best to make a new will altogether so there is no inconsistencies.  Seek professional advice.

This article looks at:

  • What is a codicil?
  • Making a legally valid codicil
  • Codicils must refer to the date on the correct will
  • Revoking part of a will by a codicil
  • Reviving an earlier will by a codicil
  • Meaning of ‘will’ includes a codicil
  • How must codicils be signed?
  • Storing a codicil
  • Potential problems
  • An undated, unsigned ‘homemade’ codicil 

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