What is a codicil to a will?

If you are thinking about changing or updating your will, you can always make a new one. However, if your changes are small, then a codicil might be right for you.

In this helpful guide, we cover: what a codicil is, how you can add a codicil to a will, the average cost of a codicil and when a codicil can be used.

What is a codicil to a will?

A codicil is an additional piece of legal documentation which authorises any minor changes made to a will. 

Reasons & examples of when to add a codicil to a will?

Codicils are okay for small updates to your will, such as:

  • Changing an executor
  • Changing a guardian
  • Adding or removing an asset
  • Changing beneficiaries
  • Changing allocations to beneficiaries 

If the change is more complicated than the above, you should probably make a new will to ensure it reflects your situation and requests correctly. 

It’s also very important to make a new will if the change will affect a big portion of your estate (more than 10%) or give away someone something very valuable, like your house. This is because it’s easy for a codicil to get lost, or forgotten by your executor – especially if you don’t manage to tell them it exists.

If you do decide to make a new will instead of adding a codicil, you’ll need to revoke the old will by destroying it completely.

How to write a codicil to a will

Codicils can be made with the help of a professional legal team or solicitor. A codicil refers to the existing will by the date that it was made in order to be valid, along with the version number (you will need to state if it is the 1st, 2nd 3rd codicil etc). As the testator, you will need to be named and the completed codicil will need to be signed and witnessed.

TIP: Don’t attach your codicil to your will as it invalidates the will and the codicil. Instead, store it with your will, and let your executors know where to find both of them.

Does a codicil have to be witnessed like a standard will?

Just like the original will, it needs to be signed, witnessed and stored in a safe location in order for it to be executed post-death.

The witnesses of a codicil do not need to be the same people who witnessed the original will, but they should not be anyone who is directly benefitting from the terms of the codicil (i.e. being named as a beneficiary). If somebody witnesses a will or codicil in which they are named as a beneficiary, their inheritance will not be granted during probate.

If the individual is named as a beneficiary in the original will and the terms of their inheritance is not being affected by the changes made, they can witness the codicil without their inheritance being deemed invalid.

How much does a codicil cost to make?

Using a codicil to make slight changes to a will is usually cheaper than writing a new one, but the exact cost will vary depending on your individual circumstances.

If you go to a local solicitor, a codicil will cost between £40 and £70, depending on the complexity of the changes included within the codicil.

The safest way to update a will is by writing a new one, and if you’re making changes which could have a significant impact on your loved one’s inheritance, we recommend that you spend a little bit extra to ensure that your exact wishes are carried out when you die.

Is your will up to date and does it reflect your current situation? 

With over 2 in 3 people in the UK not having an up to date will, millions of people are putting their families at financial risk should the worst happen.

You can write a new will for as little as £29.99 with Wills.Services – register with us today to see how our expert legal services could help secure your family’s future. 

Article reviewed 5th March 2021

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