While you’d like to make a will once and then forget about it, things happen that require updating a will. You may get married or divorced, have children or grandchildren, lose a loved one prematurely, have a falling out with a family member or friend, shift your charitable inclinations, win the lottery or move to a new state. Once you realize it’s time to update your will, what should you do?
You may think the easiest way to revise your will is to mark it with a pen and initial next to the changes. Unfortunately, any extra notations made on your will, such as crossing something out, inserting a name or writing in the margin, will be ignored. In fact, under certain circumstances, an altered will may become completely invalid. Instead, you have two options for making revisions to your will. You can write a codicil or a brand new will.
Prior to the computer era, wills were written by long-hand. Eventually, they were typed on a good, old fashioned typewriter. Back then, if someone wanted to make a change to their will, rewriting or re-typing the entire document would be too cumbersome. Instead, a “codicil” was used to revise, delete or add language to the existing will.
Since a codicil is used to amend a will, it must be signed with the same legal formalities as a will. And while in the past making a codicil was easier than drafting an entire new will, today, with modern technology, rewriting an entire will isn’t a big deal.
In almost every situation, writing a brand new will instead of a making a codicil is better for the following reasons: