Should I rewrite my will or make a codicil?

Date: Jun 19, 2015

Having a will in place is the first step towards making sure your assets are distributed in line with your wishes, but there is a chance your intentions could change over time. There are several key life events that might encourage you to alter your will, ranging from marriage to divorce, having children to simply changing your mind.

If you do need to make amendments to your will, then generally speaking you have two options. One involves completely rewriting the document, while the other entails making a codicil.

What is a codicil?

A codicil is a note that is added to your existing will. No changes are made to the original document, but instead this is added at a later date in order to state your new wishes.

In some cases, a codicil will be used to change just a single word or sentence. Although they can be used to create larger changes, this is generally not advisable, as it can make it more difficult for your assets to be distributed and could lead to an estate dispute.

Whenever you write a codicil, it will need to be witnessed and signed. This ensures that the likelihood of an estate dispute is kept to a minimum further down the line, and confirms that the amendment is legally sound.

When should I rewrite my will?

If extensive changes are needed, it is generally a safer option to have your will rewritten. This way, you can state your wishes clearly and there is unlikely to be as much confusion as there would be if a codicil is in place.

Make sure that when the new document is written up that it is clear it's intended to substitute any existing wills and codicils. It is this sort of complication that can lead someone to challenge a will, so it is always wise to be as transparent as possible.

People generally choose to rewrite their will in the wake of major life events. For example, if one of your beneficiaries passes away, then you will need to name somebody else instead. The same goes for if you get married or have children since the original document was drawn up.

No matter whether you opt for a codicil or a completely revised will, make sure that the executors of your estate know where to find them. This will make it easier for your estate to be distributed in the event of your death.