One of the benefits of creating a will is that the document retains its power until the testator, the person who drafts the agreement, passes away. A legally valid will controls the probate process and is the main framework that a court uses to determine the property rights of a decedent’s heirs.

When a testator is still alive, they might decide that they want to make changes to their will. They can do so by drafting a codicil, which is an addendum that alters an existing will while leaving the remaining portions unchanged.

Enacting codicils in Mount Laurel can help a testator achieve their goal of creating an all-encompassing testamentary document. A diligent wills attorney could provide more information about drafting a codicil and help a family follow legal regulations.

What is a Codicil?

A codicil is an alteration or amendment to an existing will. Attaching a codicil does not alter the stipulations, requests, or demands of the will, unless that addendum directly contradicts other active clauses.

For example, an testator’s will may state, “I want Mr. B to inherit my pickup truck. I also want Ms. C to inherit the remainder of my estate.” After a few years, the testator might draft a codicil that gifts the truck to a Mr. D. This means that Mr. B is no longer an heir on the will and cannot inherit the truck. Meanwhile, Ms. C can still inherit the entirety of the estate with the exception of the truck.

A resourceful attorney in Mount Laurel could help a family understand the basics of codicils and outline how they may impact other parts of a testamentary document.

How to Draft a Codicil in Mount Laurel

According to New Jersey Revised Statute § 3B:3-16, the only way to alter a will is to create a new version or to enact a codicil. Drafting and enacting a codicil is generally a straightforward process. Most people implement two common strategies when drafting one of these addendums. The first method involves directly altering the existing will. A testator can strike language from the will or add new clauses. Afterward, they need to sign near their changes. The alterations must also include the signatures of two witnesses who observed these changes.

The second method involves creating a separate document that serves as the codicil. This document should refer back to the primary will and make changes that account for existing clauses. This type of codicil also needs two witness signatures. A detail-oriented lawyer in Mount Laurel lawyer could help a testator determine which type of codicil is best for their assets and circumstances.

Contact an Attorney about Codicils in Mount Laurel

When you begin drafting a will, you may have your mind made up about your wishes for your hard-earned property. However, your priorities may change over time. If this happens, you always have the right to change your testamentary document as you see fit.

A carefully written codicil could help you make impactful changes to your will. If you need help understanding the intricacies of these arrangements, a seasoned lawyer could explain codicils in Mount Laurel and help you make the alterations you need. Call the office today to schedule a consultation.