When a Will is written and signed, it becomes a legally binding document, so making any changes isn’t as simple as crossing something out and rewriting, or editing a word document. 

Making official edits, changes or amendments to a Will is called a codicil.

What is a codicil?

A codicil is the legal term for an amendment to an existing Will. To amend an existing Will, you will need to make an official alteration called a codicil, that must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will is. A codicil should be a short document, approx 1-2 pages long. 

Once a codicil has been witnessed and signed by the will-maker and witnesses, it becomes legally valid. A codicil should be stored with the Will, however it is important not to staple, pin or paper clip the codicil and Will together. It’s best to keep them together in an envelope or plastic pocket instead, so the papers are not marked in any way.

When making any changes, the amendment must contain the date of the original will, details of the person submitting the codicil, and the correct reference to the original will’s changes.

As well as the amendment, a codicil also needs to contain the date of the original Will, the details of the person submitting the codicil (the will-maker) and correctly reference the changes to the original Will.

When should I make a codicil?

A codicil should only be used for small or minor alterations to a Will. If the change is rather large, it might be best to write a new Will.

Here are some reasons why you might consider making a codicil:

  • Changing your executor or appointing a new one e.g. if your previous executor passed away or no longer wishes to be executor. 
  • Adding or removing gifts for a beneficiary.
  • Explaining or clarifying a section (clause).
  • Changing the beneficiary of property.
  • Revoking or cancelling part of the Will.
  • Updating to reflect arrangements for a new pet.

If in doubt, it’s best to create a new Will. A new Will immediately revokes all Wills created before it. 

Do I need a lawyer or professional to make a codicil?

Whilst it might seem like a simple process, there are a lot of consequences for an incorrect codicil, such as making the Will invalid, or somebody attempting to contest your Will. It’s also worth considering how those circumstances will affect your beneficiaries and executor, who are likely to be your loved ones.

If you need advice or want to create a bespoke Will, our Bare Law estate and Probate lawyers could help. Give them a call on 1800 959 371.

Are there any problems with codicils?

As mentioned above, there can be some serious consequences for making any mistakes when creating a codicil. Here are some examples of issues:

  • Writing the wrong date of the original Will on the codicil.
  • Not writing the current date.
  • Using confusing or unclear language in the amendment.
  • Losing the original codicil document. Because it is a separate document, these things can go missing, which is why it’s important to keep everything together in a safe and secure place, such as the Bare Digital Vault

If you need any advice, require a bespoke Will or Probate for a deceased estate, you can head here to learn more or give our affiliate law firm Bare Law a call on 1800 343 119.