What is a codicil and why would I need one?

A codicil is a legal document that is used to make minor changes or additions to an existing will.

You may need a codicil to your will for a number of reasons, including:

Changes in your assets:

If you acquire new assets or dispose of existing assets, you may need to update your will to reflect these changes. For example, if you sell a piece of property that was listed in your will, you may need to delete that asset from your will or revise the distribution of your assets.

Changes in your family situation:

If there are changes in your family situation, such as a birth, adoption, marriage, divorce or death you may need to update your will to reflect these changes. For example, if you have a new child or grandchild you may want to add them as a beneficiary in your will. This can be done using a codicil rather than writing a completely new will.

We have found that some of our clients who have named their children as their main beneficiaries in their wills sometimes reconsider when those children become adults and have families of their own, often using a codicil to skip a generation in order to name the grandchildren as principal beneficiaries.

At Savigny we have encountered numerous examples where someone named as an executor in a will, often a family member, has predeceased the person to whom the will belongs. This can lead to unforeseen issues extending the whole legal and probate process but could easily be corrected by naming a new executor as soon as possible. This can be done using a codicil.

Changes in your wishes:

If you change your mind about how you want your assets to be distributed after your death you will need to change your will to reflect these changes. For example, if you want to change the percentage of your assets that each beneficiary will receive you can update your will accordingly using a codicil.

Correcting errors:

If there are errors or omissions in your will, you can correct them using a codicil. For example, if you accidently left out a beneficiary or made a mistake in the distribution of your assets you could add a codicil to correct the error.

How many codicil's can you have?

You can have more than one codicil to your will, each making different minor changes to your wishes. However you should bear in mind that multiple codicils can potentially create confusion and increase the risk of errors or inconsistencies.

If you find that you need to make frequent changes to your will, or if you need to make significant changes, it may be better to write a new will altogether.

Always get advice from a professional

It is a always a good idea to seek professional legal advice from a qualified will writer, such as Savigny Will Writers or a lawyer when making changes to your will to ensure that your wishes are properly executed and documented.

What "codicil" actually means

Finally, you may be intrigued about where the term "codicil" comes from. It actually has roots in the Latin word "codex" which means "book" or "document". In Roman times a codex was a type of book that was made up of individual sheets of papyrus or parchment all bound together along one edge.

When the practice of making wills began to develop in medieval Europe, it became common to make changes to a will by attaching a separate sheet or page to the original document rather than writing out an entirely new will. This separate sheet was referred to as a "codicillus", which means "little codex" in Latin. Over time the word became shortened to "codicil".

Ensure you receive a kind, understanding service

At Savigny we believe that everyone should be treated with respect and kindness receiving a caring personal service. We take the time to understand your needs and provide the professional experience, knowledge, skills and accreditation to write your will or a codicil to your existing will, so you can be reassured your wishes will be met after your passing.

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