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What is a Codicil in Estate Planning?

A codicil is a convenient way to make changes to an existing will without having to rewrite the entire document. For example, if you want to change the distribution of your assets or add or remove a beneficiary, you can use a codicil to make those changes. Codicils can also be used to update the executor or personal representative of your estate.

The Creation of a Codicil

To create a codicil, you will need to follow the same formalities as a will. This means that it must be in writing, signed by the testator (the person making the will), and witnessed by at least two individuals who are not beneficiaries of the will. The witnesses must also sign in the presence of the testator.

Legal Requirements

If you want your codicil to be legally binding, it must comply with specific requirements. To start, it must be written, signed by the testator, and witnessed by at least two individuals who are not beneficiaries of the will. Furthermore, the codicil must explicitly state that it is meant to modify an existing will. If a codicil contradicts the original will, the terms of the original will usually take precedence. Ensure your codicil is valid by following these guidelines.

Is it Right for You?

It’s important to keep in mind that codicils can become confusing and difficult to interpret over time. If you are considering making significant changes to your will, it may be a good idea to consider creating a completely new will instead. This will help ensure that your wishes are clear and unambiguous, and will make it easier for your executor to administer your estate after you pass away.

Changing the Executor of a Will

If you’re looking to change the executor of your will without starting from scratch, a codicil can help you accomplish that. This guide will walk you through the process of changing your will’s executor using a codicil.

  1. Choose a new executor: Pick an adult of sound mind who is not a felon. This person should be someone you trust to follow your wishes and manage your estate.
  2. Write the codicil: Detail the changes you’re making to your will.  Be sure to including the name of the new executor, the date of the change, and the specifics of the change.
  3. Sign and date: Sign and date your codicil in front of at least two witnesses.  Make certain your legal adults are of sound mind and not connected to your will, such as beneficiaries. Alternatively, you can ask a neighbor or coworker who won’t benefit from your will to witness the signing.
  4. Attach to your will: Once it is signed and dated, attach it to your existing will. Store a copy of both your will and the codicil in a safe place. You may also want to give a copy to your estate planning attorney. Most importantly make certain you register your estate documents with The U.S. Will Registry. This will assist in making certain your family will be able to locate your documents when needed.

Conclusion of What is a Codicil in Estate Planning

Now you know the meaning and benefits of a codicil and how it is used. It is a useful tool for making changes to an existing will, but it is important to understand the legal requirements. It is important to take the proper steps to ensure that your wishes are clear and unambiguous. If you do create a codicil, make sure you register it with your Last Will documents at The U.S. Will Registry.

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