A codicil is a document that’s used to update a will. It’s generally used when a person has already created an existing will but wishes to make small changes to reflect financial circumstances or lifestyle changes that could impact the estate. This document lets them make alterations without having to create an entirely new will. If you’re unsure when it’s best to use one or create a new will, we have outlined seven situations where you could use a codicil.
In certain areas and provinces, you don’t have to create an entirely new will if you’ve been recently married — you can just add them to your current will through a codicil. Only in the case where you live in an area where a marriage voids a will, or if there needs to be a large number of changes made, should you create an entirely new will.
A codicil is also used when you’ve gone through a major life transition such as divorce. When a divorce is finalized, it’s crucial to update your will through a codicil to avoid having your ex inherit your property or assets upon your passing. In some places, a divorce will immediately invalidate a will, so it’s important to talk with an advisor regarding your circumstances.
Change in Financial Situation
You may also wish to change your will to redistribute your wealth, give to charity, or provide a gift to someone. You can use a codicil in many of these cases to make any changes to your will without creating a new one.
Birth or Death
Whenever a family goes through a birth or death, you can use a codicil to add or remove those people from your will. For instance, if you’ve recently given birth or adopted, you can easily add these family members to inherit assets from your estate through a codicil.
Change of Executor or Guardianship
If your executor has passed away or decides they no longer want the job, you can easily name a new one in a codicil. You may also want to make a change to any named guardians if you undergo a divorce or if the person has moved away.
Change in Assets
Your old will may no longer represent your current wishes regarding the distribution of your estate. Instead of drafting a new will, you could use a codicil to express your new intent. This is highly useful when addressing the distribution of property that you forgot to mention in your original document or when you sell a property, business, or shares that were listed in your original will.
Adding or Excluding Beneficiaries
A codicil can also be used to add or exclude beneficiaries from the original will. A common example of this is when you want to add a grandchild to the will who didn’t previously exist.
Of course, there are also a number of scenarios when creating a new will is a better option than using a codicil. That’s why you should always talk to an estate advisor first.