When Should I Include a Codicil in My Estate Plan?

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A codicil allows you to amend your last will and testament.

You planned ahead.

You created an estate plan with a last will and testament years ago.

Life has a way of changing relationships and resources, yes?

Consequently, changed a number of provisions in your last will no longer reflect your current circumstances.

According to a recent KAKE.com article titled “Using a Codicil to Modify a Will,” you may benefit from including a codicil in your estate plan.

A codicil allows you to update your last will and testament.
You can update your last will and testament using a codicil.

What is a codicil?

Codicils are amendments to a last will and testament.

It allows you to make changes without revoking and rewriting your current will.

When might you use a codicil?

It can allow you to remove or add an heir.

If you have sold or acquired property, you can remove or add it as a specific distribution to a specific person in your last will.

You can amend your executor or even the legal guardian for your minor children.

With a codicil, you can change the division and distribution of your residuary property (i.e., the stuff remaining after specific distributions).

Utilizing this estate planning tool can help you align your estate plan with your current situation.

Failing to update your estate plan can complicate probate proceedings.

Depending on the laws of your state and the extent of changes you need to make, revoking your last will in favor of a new last will may be a more suitable option than a codicil.

For example, do you really want any of your relatives to see that they were once “included” in your estate distribution, but are now disinherited?

How you revoke an existing last will differs depending on where you live.

The simplest and most effective way is to state in the opening of your new last will that you are “revoking any prior last wills or codicils thereto.”

If you cannot find your original last will and testament, then it would be a good idea to create a new one.

In fact, the attorney who prepared the original likely still has it save in “soft copy” on his or her computer system.

It would be easy-peasy to change the date, lather, rinse, and repeat.

Discuss your goals with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine whether a codicil is the best approach for your situation.

Reference: KAKE.com (June 17, 2020) “Using a Codicil to Modify a Will”