Life can be unpredictable and as your circumstances change you may require to make certain minor amendments to your Will without having to rewrite your entire Will. A Codicil can be prepared to make these minor changes, such as adding a new clause, deleting or altering an existing clause to your Will. The Codicil is considered a separate legal document from a Will, but is not a stand-alone document. The meaning of one document is affected by the presence of the other. The Codicil to a Will makes reference to the Will and describes a change/alteration to a particular clause or clauses in the Will. For a Codicil to be legally valid it needs to follow certain legal guidelines and it must be dated, signed and witnessed in the same way as a Will. You do not need to use the original witnesses to witness a Codicil. The witnesses, however, should not have any personal interest in the Will or Codicil and should not be beneficiaries of the Will or Codicil. If executed correctly, the Codicil forms part of the Will.
As with a Will, you must be 18 years of age and of sound mind to change, modify, update or completely revoke your Last Will and Testament at any time.
There are no restrictions regulating what you can change using a Codicil, or a legal limit on the number of Codicils you can add to a Will. A Codicil should, however, only be used for minor, simple and straightforward changes. If there are numerous Codicils and there is a Codicil which has been overlooked or missed, it can make it difficult or impossible to carry out the written wishes of your Will. If you need to make a number of changes to your Will, it is advisable to draw up a new Will, to avoid any uncertainties or ambiguities in your Will, including any complexity in administering your Will.
Since a Will and Codicil are legal documents, if you have any questions to help you decide whether a Codicil or Will is most suitable for you, it would be advisable to instruct a reputable law firm of solicitors to guide you in the process, so that you are confident that any common mistakes are avoided and your best interests are protected after your death.
Originally published 22 May 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.