A codicil is a document that amends your last will and testament to account for changes that have occurred since you executed the original document. Many times, it may not be necessary to create an entirely new will when only one or two provisions require change.

However, there could be disadvantages to using codicils in Wheaton, and it is essential to follow correct procedures to ensure that a codicil fulfills the intended purpose. Many people find it beneficial to work with an experienced wills lawyer when preparing a codicil or otherwise changing provisions in a will. An attorney could help ensure that the document complies with legal requirements and accounts for changes in both law and circumstances.

Reasons for Codicils

Many wills are complex documents with lengthy provisions establishing trusts and providing for varying degrees of contingency. When an individual needs to make a single change or add a simple feature, it may be easier to make that change through a codicil rather than reworking the entire instrument.

Codicils in Wheaton are often used to:

  • Include children born after a will was created
  • Appoint a new executor and revoke the prior appointment
  • Revoke bequests that are no longer necessary or desirable
  • Add bequests not anticipated before the will was executed
  • Appoint a new beneficiary to receive the remainder of an estate and revoke the previous beneficiary
  • Name or change the guardian for minor children

Depending on the reason for the change, an attorney may advise creating a new will rather than creating a codicil for the prior document.

Requirements to Amend a Will

The testator who created a will cannot make valid changes simply by adding words to the existing document, even if those changes are made personally by the testator in their own handwriting. Instead, it is necessary to follow the requirements set forth in 755 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/4-9.

Codicils in Wheaton must be made by the testator or at the testator’s direction in the testator’s presence. The document must be signed and witnessed in the same manner as a full will. This means that the testator must be of sound mind, the testator must sign the document or direct someone to sign, and two credible witnesses must also sign the document.

Problems with Codicils

People have long since used codicils to amend wills. However, a codicil may not always be the best way to make a change.

Because a codicil is a separate document, there is always a risk that a codicil could be lost or invalidated, and then the desired changes would not take effect. In addition, reading the original will and the codicil together could create inconsistencies that could cast doubts on interpretation.

If the desired changes are instead incorporated in a new will that expressly revokes the older will, the potential for these problems could be eliminated. An estate planning lawyer could determine whether it makes more sense to use codicils in Wheaton or establish a new will.

Assistance with Codicils

It is wise to treat codicils with the same respect as a full last will and testament. A will may have many codicils, so it is important to keep track of all documents and preferably keep them together. It is also essential to ensure that codicils in Wheaton are executed with proper formalities or they may be considered invalid.

Improper amendments to a will could make the entire document invalid, so it is wise to take care when creating a codicil or amending a will in any way. Advice from an experienced attorney could prevent mistakes that lead to ambiguity and potential challenges in the future.