What is a codicil?
A codicil is a legal document that modifies or adds to an existing Will. It is used to make minor changes or additions to a Will without the need to completely rewrite the document. Codicils can be used to add or remove gifts, appoint or remove executors or trustees, or make other changes to the Will.
In order to be valid, a codicil must be executed with the same formalities as a Will, including being signed by the testator (the person making the Will) and witnessed by at least two people.
A codicil is usually one or two pages long. It should be kept with the Will. A codicil should not be used to make significant changes to a Will, as it can be confusing and may not be effective in carrying out the testator’s wishes. In such cases, it is generally better to create a new Will.
Codicil Example / Codicil Template
What’s an example of a codicil?
There are no prescribed or standard forms for a codicil. Everyone’s situation is different.
But here’s a codicil example or codicil template:
Source: Law Depot
Include the full address for both witnesses.
What makes a codicil valid
A codicil usually contains the following:
- Details of the person making the codicil (“testator”).
- Information about other codicils. Too many codicils can confuse things. In this case, a new Will should probably be drafted.
- It must be clear which Will is being amended. Some people have multiple Wills.
- It must be clear which clause/s in the Will are being altered.
- Attestation clause.
- Signed and witnessed correctly.
How to write a codicil to a Will in 6 steps
A codicil is a document that amends or adds to an existing Will. If you want to write a codicil, here are the steps you can follow:
- Start by identifying the specific provisions of your Will that you want to change or add to. Make a list of these provisions and the changes you want to make.
- Create a new document and title it as a codicil to your existing Will.
- Begin the codicil with a statement identifying it as an addition to your existing Will, including the date of the Will and the date of the codicil.
- Make the changes or additions to the Will as outlined in your list. Use clear and concise language to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.
- At the end of the codicil, include a statement that reaffirms your intention to keep the rest of the Will unchanged, unless you are making changes to other provisions as well.
- Sign and date the codicil in front of two witnesses, who should also sign and date the document.
It’s important to note that the formal requirements for executing a codicil may vary depending on the state where you live. It’s a good idea to consult a lawyer to ensure that your codicil meets the legal requirements in your jurisdiction.
How often should you update your Will?
Examples of when you should update your Will:
- A change in your financial situation (e.g. increased income or retirement).
- New family members.
But editing or re-drafting your Will can be time-consuming and expensive. Especially if the edits are only small (e.g. changing beneficiaries).
That’s why a “codicil” might be a better option.
When should a codicil be used?
You can use a codicil when changes are required that do not alter the overall structure and purpose of your Will. A codicil is a faster and more cost-effective method of updating your Will without drafting a new Will. So it can be a great option for some people.
A codicil modifies or revokes provisions in your Will. It’s not a new Will.
Examples of when a codicil can be used include:
- Adjusting the percentage of your estate gifted to a beneficiary.
- Replacing a beneficiary or executor.
- Revoking a clause.
- Including a gift to an individual or deleting.
- Adding instructions for who will look after a pet.
2 things to consider before writing a codicil
Please consider the following before writing a codicil:
- Is this my first codicil? The first codicil to your Will is often easy to understand. Multiple codicils, however, become confusing and contradictory. In this case, you should probably draft a new Will.
- How old is my current Will? An old Will may inaccurately reflect your circumstances. For example, if your children have reached adulthood, or you are in a new relationship. If it has been a few years, and your circumstances have dramatically changed, then a new Will may be preferable. This is because it’s likely that multiple provisions in your Will need to be changed.
How much does a codicil cost in Australia?
Our fees for a codicil start at $350. Prices start at $1050 for a new Will.
Prices may vary. This depends on the complexity of your matter and how much time is required.
This article was published in 2022. Please contact us for our current prices.
Do I need a solicitor to write a codicil?
You do not need a solicitor to write a codicil. But it’s a good idea to consult one. A solicitor can ensure your Will and codicils meet the requirements to ensure your Will is valid. A codicil also requires a testator to sign in the presence of two witnesses. So it’s important that you seek professional advice before making any important decisions.
Would you like a solicitor to write a codicil for you?
At Northern Beaches Lawyers, we can help you decide if a codicil is a good option for you. With over 25 years of experience in Will and Estate Law, we can use our expertise to advise you accordingly.