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Changes: What To Know About Codicils And Wills

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Unless you've really been out of touch, you likely already understand the importance of writing a will before you pass away. You can take a huge burden off of your loved ones by making decisions about your property and debts ahead of time, and the instructions you leave behind will serve as a useful guide for your executor and beneficiaries. Depending on how old you are at the time you write your original will, you may need to make some changes in it from time to time. When the change is relatively small, you may be able to make an addition called a codicil. Read on to learn more about codicils and whether or not they are right for your situation.

What is meant by a codicil

The term "codicil" is a very old one, dating back to the days when documents were painstakingly created using quill and ink; a process that could be very time-consuming and tedious. When a document needed to be changed, such as when a mistake was discovered or when a clarification was needed, the entire document often needed to be re-done.

Codicils provided a handy way to make changes to documents that meant adding a passage correcting or adjusting a previous page, rather than re-doing the entire thing. The word codicil, by the way, translates to "little codex" or little writing. If you are a fan of murder-mysteries, you may have already come into contact with the codicil being used as a game-changer when it is discovered to have completely changed the the terms of a will.

Why would you change a will?

Most experts advise that you should take a look at your will every few years and make sure that it still reflects your wishes. For example, ask yourself, do you still want some funds to go to the same charity as you did a few years ago? Anytime you acquire new property, you should consider adjusting your will. When your family changes, so should your will. For instance, you may now have grandchildren that were not specifically addressed in your older will.

Why not just re-write the will?

Nowadays, most attorneys keep documents not only in paper form, but in digital format as well. Changing a document now means a few keystrokes and viola!, a new will has been prepared. While a will does still require two witnesses to attest that the testator is of sound mind and that they are who they say they are; a codicil also requires a witness. With that in mind, many people decide to just make out a new will with the changes in it instead of adding a codicil, since both actions requires about the same amount of time and effort.

Be sure to talk to your estate attorney like Seiler & Parker PC for more information about updating your will.