You can amend your will relatively easily to meet to new circumstances and events in your life. A codicil, or will amendment, is a short document that alters a will's original directions. A codicil generally follows the same technical rules of an original will. Each state has its own probate laws, so you should confirm the specific rules for codicils in your state.
Making a Codicil
Identify the original will and its date in the codicil's title. For example, "Codicil to Sally Sunshine's Will dated November 1, 2010." State the change you wish to make. For example, "I replace Mary Smith with Bob Jones as personal representative." State all other terms of the original will remain valid.
Sign the codicil before two competent, adult witnesses. Do not use witnesses who are named in the original will or codicil. State above the witnesses signatures, "The witnesses observed the codicil maker freely and competently sign his name on this day." Date the codicil and have the witnesses print their names and addresses below their signatures.
Attach the codicil to the original will and keep them in a safe place. Tell someone you trust where you are storing them. If the original will is registered at your local probate court, be sure to register the codicil with it.
- Codicils are typically used for small, simple changes. If want you to make complicated estate planning changes an entirely new will is the better choice. A new will revokes all previous wills so your new estate planning terms override all previous ones.
Maggie Lourdes is a full-time attorney in southeast Michigan. She teaches law at Cleary University in Ann Arbor and online for National University in San Diego. Her writing has been featured in "Realtor Magazine," the N.Y. State Bar's "Health Law Journal," "Oakland County Legal News," "Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal," "Eye Spy Magazine" and "Surplus Today" magazine.