Ever wonder if you’re allowed to make changes to your final Will and Testament? With a Codicil to Will, you absolutely can! Creating a clear, effective, and legitimate Will is one of the most important aspects of the Estate Planning process. This is because a Will is what dictates your future (and the future of your family) after you pass. It’s critical that your Will be as straightforward as possible so that it is upheld in Probate court and your final wishes are executed exactly how you envisioned.
So how can a person make changes to their Will throughout their life (which is inevitable) and feel certain that those changes are legally recognized? One way is with a Codicil to Will.
What is a Codicil to Will?
A Codicil is a legal document that dictates any modifications or amendments to your Last Will and Testament. If for any reason, you feel the need to change some part of your Will — which can include adding new arrangements or removing old ones — you can easily do so with a Codicil.
How a Codicil Can Benefit You
There are a number of circumstances that can precipitate the need for a Codicil to a will. Perhaps you’ve reached a new milestone (like marriage or the birth of a child or grandchildren) and you want your existing Will to reflect those changes. Maybe you’ve acquired additional properties or assets you know you want to leave behind for your beneficiaries. Whatever your motivation is, here are several things you can do with a Codicil:
- Change your executor. If the executor you named in your original Will passes away or you feel they are no longer fit to manage your affairs, you can name someone else using a codicil. You can also add a co-executor if you feel so inclined.
- Update beneficiaries. Add new (or change existing) Beneficiaries to your Will with a Codicil.
- Make note of new familial or financial circumstances. In instances where the guardian(s) you named for your children pass away or become unfit, you can use a Codicil to update your guardianship wishes. You can also create a Codicil to protect your Beneficiaries if there are significant tax consequences not covered by your Will.
- Revise end-of-life wishes. If you or anyone covered in your Will wants to modify their funeral or burial arrangements for any reason, a Codicil can ratify those wishes. We don’t usually suggest end-of-life wishes in a Will as it is often not read until after someone might be buried.
Keep in mind that in order to execute your Codicil, you must sign it in the presence of at least two unbiased witnesses (i.e., anyone who is not mentioned in your Will.) Lastly, be sure to store your updated Will in a safe space.
Can I Have Multiple Codicils?
There is no legal limit to the number of Codicils a person can have in his or her Will. However, the legitimacy of a Will may be called into question if it contains years upon years of unclear modifications and deletions.
Your Will should be as clear as possible so that a Probate court judge deems it a valid representation of your final wishes. If a judge decides that your Will is overly confusing and therefore partially (or sometimes even entirely) invalid, it becomes the same as dying without a Will. This could lead to your Estate being distributed in a way you didn’t intend.
Does a Codicil Have to be Notarized?
In short, no — a Codicil to a Will does not have to be notarized. However, laws and requirements vary from Province to Province. A Codicil does have to be signed in front of at least two witnesses who are not listed as beneficiaries, guardians, or executors in your Will.
We understand that circumstances change throughout life, and we want to ensure that those changes are properly reflected in a person’s Will. One way to do this is with a Codicil to Will. So, whether you’re just embarking on your Estate Planning journey or you need more help creating or making changes to your existing Will, give us a call today!
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This material is for general information and educational purposes only. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions.