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Need help with a Codicil?
A codicil is your answer to a rapid, cost-effective change to your final wishes. Rather than rewrite your entire will, you can attach signed, notarized codicils that communicate your intent to the court, personal representative, and family members.
The laws surrounding codicils vary according to the laws of your state. Ensure that your codicils are compliant so that your survivors do not have to handle an additional dispute in the wake of your death. They will have enough on their plate at that time.
Instead of leaving your will unmaintained, use codicils to make changes. Everything you need to know about codicils is described in the article below.
What is a Codicil?
Codicils are addendums to your last will and testament. They allow you to amend specific provisions while leaving the main purpose of the document in place. For instance, if you want to name another heir, you may want to codicil your will.
People who have a will in place, also known as testators, generally amend them for the following reasons:
- Bequeathments are no longer available
- Changes regarding bequeathment airs
- Adding a new estate plan beneficiary
- Removing heirs that have died
- Increasing cash gift values to adjust for inflation
You need to rewrite your will if you anticipate significant changes to the structure or intent of the document. Your estate planning lawyers can help you determine which approach is best for your situation. If you do not need to rewrite your will, they will not recommend you do so.
Here’s an article about codicils.
Purpose of a Codicil
The purpose of a codicil allows testators to make changes to their living wills , living trust , and more without having to change the main provisions. Consequentially, legally protected individuals leverage the power of a codicil to help them effectively manage their estate plans.
Benefits of a codicil include:
- Ease of application
- Make changes quickly
- Legally compliant
- Denotes a maintained estate
- Creates a paper trail
All legal documents, like codicils, are designed with a specific purpose in mind. Your codicil’s main function is to change your will without having to do a rewrite. It is a simple option that provides numerous benefits when used correctly.
This article also discusses codicils.
How Codicil’s Work
Due to their relative ease, codicils are a popular option when updating a will. Instead of redrafting your entire estate plan, you can utilize codicils to make smaller, incremental changes. Codicils are generally cheaper than the former option as well.
Here’s how the process of using a codicil works:
- Step 1 . Determine which provisions you would like to change
- Step 2 . Write down the changes you would like to make
- Step 3 . Meet with estate planning attorneys
- Step 4 . Review their proposed codicil to your will
- Step 5 . Accept the changes by signing and dating the document
- Step 6 . Keep it in a safe location with your other estate planning documents
- Step 7 . Take all legal documents with you when you make changes
Depending upon where you live, you may need to enlist the help of two (2) signature witnesses. Some law firms can handle this aspect for you as well as arrange for a public notary, but testators generally prefer to use witnesses with whom they are familiar. It is sometimes a matter of legal personal preference or convenience.
Learn more about codicils here .
When Does a Codicil Make Sense?
A codicil makes sense when it is easier to codicil your will rather than create a new one. Generally, the first will that a person draft is not going to be their last since financial and legal situations change over time. Codicils give you the option to change your living will or last will and testament without going through the painstaking effort you took initially.
Reasons to codicil your will include:
- Reason 1 . Naming new heirs
- Reason 2 . Bequeathing new property
- Reason 3 . Changes that don’t conflict with the original document
- Reason 4 . Correcting erroneous information
- Reason 5 . Add a new section
Reasons to not codicil your will include:
- Reason 1 . Disinheriting a family member
- Reason 2 . Adding a spouse or beneficiary
- Reason 3 . Too many existing codicils
- Reason 4 . Making a significant change to the entire will
- Reason 5 . Removing a section
The bottom line is that a codicil makes sense as long as it serves the legal intent of adding one. Time is essential when it comes to estate planning documents. Sometimes, a codicil works well when you need to make changes before a looming event.
Here’s another article about codicils.
Can I Write a Codicil Myself?
While you are allowed to write a codicil yourself, it’s better to work with an estate planning lawyer. They will ensure that you do not make legal mistakes and that the codicil is compliant with the local, county, state, and federal laws. Estate planning lawyers can also help you determine if you need to make other changes to accomplish your legal objectives.
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Get Help with a Codicil
Get help with a codicil by hiring an estate planning attorney. While downloading a boilerplate template may seem like a cost-effective solution, there is nothing further from the truth. Online templates are recycled from other people’s wills and may contain provisions that are illegal in your area, thereby annulling the purpose of the codicil.
Benefits of Estate Planning Lawyers
Estate planning lawyers can play a helpful role in drafting your codicils. They essentially help you avoid making legal mistakes while creating a durable, enforceable document. Keep in mind that your codicil is only as strong as the language contained within, which means that you will want to get it right the first time around.
Consider the following benefits of hiring estate planning lawyers:
- Benefit 1. Update your document as necessary
- Benefit 2. Utilize legal documents such as a living trust to avoid probate
- Benefit 3. Guarantee that your documents are free from error
- Benefit 4. Ensures you communicate your intended purpose
- Benefit 5. Receive legal advice according to your specific situation
- Benefit 6. Personalized documents that serve an explicit goal
- Benefit 7. Works with your family in case they need probate or estate help
- Benefit 8. Represents you if a legal dispute arises
- Benefit 9. Looks out for your rights and interests throughout the process
As you can see, estate planning lawyers provide a premium service when it comes to your legal documents. When you hire a legal professional to draft your codicils, you will have reassurance in knowing that your family will not have to face any additional legal hurdle upon your passing. Your codicils are your opportunity to keep things current without wasting any time.
Cost of Estate Planning Lawyers
Codicils are fairly inexpensive to draft when compared to lengthier legal documents. However, the cost of creating a codicil ultimately depends upon the complexity of the addition. By design, a codicil is not meant to be complicated, which works out in your favor as a testator.
Who to Contact for Codicil Help
Estate planning attorneys add tremendous value to the process. Their services extend far beyond expectation in every situation. If you have questions about trust, will, or codicil, you should speak with a law firm to learn more about your options.
Meet some of our Codicil Lawyers
John Daniel "J.D." Hawke is an experienced attorney with a law practice in Mobile, Alabama. He was born in Fairhope, Alabama and after earning his undergraduate degree at Auburn University, he received a law degree from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in 2010. After law school, he formed the Law Office of J.D. Hawke LLC and over the last decade he has fought incredibly hard for each and everyone of his clients. His practice focuses on representing people facing criminal charges and clients dealing with family law matters. In addition to criminal defense and domestic relations cases, he also regularly handles contract disputes, personal injury cases, small business issues, landlord/tenant disputes, document drafting, and estate planning. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.
Thomas Codevilla is Partner at SK&S Law Group where he focuses on Data Privacy, Security, Commercial Contracts, Corporate Finance, and Intellectual Property. Read more at Skandslegal.com Thomas’s clients range from startups to large enterprises. He specializes in working with businesses to build risk-based data privacy and security systems from the ground up. He has deep experience in GDPR, CCPA, COPPA, FERPA, CALOPPA, and other state privacy laws. He holds the CIPP/US and CIPP/E designations from the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Alongside his privacy practice he brings a decade of public and private transactional experience, including formations, financings, M&A, corporate governance, securities, intellectual property licensing, manufacturing, regulatory compliance, international distribution, China contracts, and software-as-a-service agreements.
Attorney of 6 years with experience evaluating and drafting contracts, formation document, and policies and procedures in multiple industries. Expanded to estate planning last year.
George is a lifelong Houston resident. He graduated from St. Thomas High School and then Texas A&M University. He obtained his Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in 2007. He is experienced in real estate, estate planning & probate, civil/commercial matters, personal, injury, business matters, bankruptcy, general counsel on-demand, and litigation. He is active in the community serving as past-president of the St. Thomas Alumni Board, a current member of the Dads Club Aquatic Center Board of Directors, current member of the Dickinson Little Italy Festival of Galveston County Board of Directors, and former PTO President for Briarmeadow Charter School.
My clients are often small and medium size technology companies, from the "idea" stage to clients who may have raised a round or three of capital and need to clean up a messy cap table. I help with all legal matters related to growth that keep founders up at night - hiring people, allocating equity, dealing with shareholders and investors, client negotiations and early litigation counseling (before you need a litigator). I've seen a lot, and because I run my own business, I understand the concerns that keep you up at night. I’ve been through, both on my own and through other clients, the “teething” pains that will inevitably arise as you scale-up – and I’m here to help you. I have over 20 years international experience devising and implementing robust corporate legal strategies and governance for large multinationals. I now focus on start-ups and early/medium stage technology companies to enable a sound legal foundation for your successful business operations. Many of my clients are international with US based holding companies or presences. My 17 years abroad helps me "translate" between different regimes and even enabling Civil and Common Law lawyers to come together. Regularly, I handle early stage financings including Convertible Notes, Seed and Series A/B financings; commercial and technology contracts; international transactions; tax; mergers and acquisitions.
Sammy Naji focuses his practice on assisting startups and small businesses in their transactional and litigation needs. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Sammy worked on Middle East diplomacy at the United Nations. He has successfully obtained results for clients in breach of contract, securities fraud, common-law fraud, negligence, and commercial lease litigation matters. Sammy also counsels clients on commercial real estate sales, commercial lease negotiations, investments, business acquisitions, non-profit formation, intellectual property agreements, trademarks, and partnership agreements.