Codicil

What is a codicil?

A codicil is an amendment to a will that changes the document or adds to it. Just like the original will, a codicil requires the signature of two adult witnesses to verify that the person writing the codicil is the person he says he is and that he appears to be competent enough to write the codicil.

Deeper definition

If you want to change your will, you can either write a completely new will or add one or more codicils to it. Now that wills can be written and stored electronically, it may be easier to draw up a new document.

When codicils originated in the 1400s, this was not possible. Writing a document was more time consuming and costly than it is today. That’s why many people added a revised statement to your will instead of creating a new one.

Unlike other legal documents, you can’t just sign a codicil in front of a notary public. While a notary can verify your identity, he can’t vouch for your mental state. This is another reason why you may want to just write a new will if you have to go to the trouble of having a codicil witnessed by two people.

Still, there may be situations where you’re making only minor changes and prefer to simply add a codicil. For example, perhaps you change the name of a listed beneficiary because she changed her last name due to marriage or divorce.

Or, perhaps you want to appoint a different person to be the executor of your estate after you die. In this case, a codicil might be the easier option. For larger changes, such as removing someone from your will, you may want to write a new will instead. Also, if you’ve added several codicils, it may be less confusing to create a new document.

Codicil example

If you’ve decided to add someone to your will, adding a codicil may be easier than writing a completely new will, especially if the addition is simple and straightforward. For example, you start volunteering at a local food bank and want to make a bequest to the organization in your will. You simply could add a codicil, naming the organization and how much you want to give to it.

Want to know how to start writing your will? Read more here.

Other Personal Finance Terms

Experian

Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus. Bankrate explains

Aftercare

Aftercare is care you receive after medical treatment. Bankrate explains.

Disbursement

Disbursement is a financial and accounting term. Bankrate explains what it means.

Money laundering

Money laundering is a criminal activity. Bankrate explains how it works.

More From Bankrate