A Codicil to Last Will is a document used to make minor changes to an existing Last Will and Testament. This document is used when the person who created the Will, known as the Testator, does not want to create an entirely new Will to make minor changes, such as adding, deleting, or changing an existing provision. This document simply amends the Will to make the relevant minor changes while leaving the remainder of the Will intact. A Codicil can change either one provision of the Will or multiple provisions of the Will. The Codicil is considered a separate legal document from a Will. However, the documents are almost always stored together as the meaning of one document is affected by the presence of the other.
Common reasons why an individual might make a Codicil include:
How to use this document
A Codicil makes frequent reference to the original Will that it is amending. Therefore, the Testator should have access to a copy of the Will that they can make reference to as they are creating the Codicil. When at all possible, the exact text of the provision that is being deleted or changed should be included in the Codicil. The Codicil gives the Testator the following three options for changing their Will:
Once the Testator makes all of the necessary changes, they should number and initial the bottoms of the pages by hand, and then date and sign the document in the presence of two witnesses and a notary. The two witnesses and the notary should also date and sign the document and the notary should complete any other necessary paperwork to authenticate the legitimacy of the Codicil.
When the Codicil has been completed and signed, it should be kept in a safe place such as a personal safe or a bank safety deposit, along with the original Will. The Testator can also choose to give copies of the Codicil to their Executor and any other parties who had copies of the original Will.
As with Wills, the creation and interpretation of a Codicil to Last Will is a matter of state law. Codicils are interpreted based on the state court where they are probated by a judge when the Testator passes away.
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