If you have gone through the process of executing a last will and testament that meets all the relevant legal requirements, you can count on the will going into probate upon your passing. However, circumstances might arise that could make you want to change or revoke the terms of the document. This is where a document known as a codicil comes into play.
A codicil is a formal way to modify the terms of an existing will without revoking it entirely. Implementing a codicil involves adding language to a last will and testament that changes the intention of the original document. A skilled wills attorney could advise you on the nuances of codicils in Moorestown.
What Is a Codicil?
A codicil to a will is not a new last will and testament. Instead, it is a supplement or addition to an existing will. This addition is used to either modify or revoke portions of the original document.
There are countless reasons to create a codicil. People consider codicils when they want to make small changes to a will without altering the bulk of the document. For example, a codicil could replace one paragraph with another or change the name of a beneficiary. Alternatively, a codicil could strike a specific section of a will while leaving the rest intact.
The rules for executing a codicil are the same as the requirements for drafting a will. A codicil must be in writing and signed by the creator. The signing must also be observed by two competent witnesses. Finally, the codicil should be kept in the same place as the original will. A Moorestown lawyer could advise on drafting a codicil and making sure it adequately alters an existing will.
When Does a Codicil Become Necessary?
State law does not outline specific circumstances that a codicil can or cannot address. Instead, the decision to update a will is entirely up to the creator. A testator might add a codicil to:
- Add or remove a beneficiary from their will
- Change the terms of a will due to changes in tax law
- Update to how assets are distributed
- Remove mention of assets that have been sold
In some cases, a testator can make these changes by updating a single line or paragraph on their will. For more complex changes, it might be necessary to add entire paragraphs to the will itself. The more substantial the changes, the more important it is to ensure the codicil is enforceable. A knowledgeable attorney in Moorestown could help with determining the purpose of a codicil and updating the language of a will accordingly.
Making Sure a Codicil is Enforceable
There are a few steps that testators can take to ensure a codicil is enforceable. First and foremost, they should ensure they meet all the requirements discussed above. However, there are other practical steps that one can follow to ensure a court approves a codicil.
The most important step is to ensure the codicil is easily located. Keeping the document with the original will—or even attaching it to the will—is a good way to ensure the court finds it for assessment. It is also helpful to have the will dated when signed, to establish it was executed following the original will. Our lawyers in Moorestown could help with this simple but crucial aspect of ensuring a codicil is enforceable.
Talk To Our Attorneys About Codicils in Moorestown
When you need to make a change to your last will and testament, state law allows you to do so with a tool known as a codicil. This legal document can be relatively simple or include paragraphs of complex legal text, depending on your needs and goals.
If you have questions about codicils in Moorestown, our knowledgeable legal team could assess your current will, listen to what you hope to change, and help you implement those changes in your estate plan. Reach out today to learn more.