Codicil to Will

Q. Please explain what a codicil is and what it can and cannot accomplish.

A. A codicil is a testamentary document that can effectively add to, alter, delete, revoke or republish a will. Just as much care and consideration should be given to codicils as the original will. The codicil is most often used to refer to an addition to the will, a change in beneficiaries, or a change in the personal representative. The attorney preparing the codicil will generally have to review the existing will in order to do a proper job in preparing a codicil.

A list of the items usually included in a codicil are as follows:

  • Name and residence (or city/county) of Testator;
  • Acknowledgment and identification of the existing will and existing codicils, if any;
  • Acknowledgment of codicil as “first” codicil, “second” codicil, etc.;
  • Identification of page, paragraph, or line(s) in will that need to be changed;
  • Specification or description of the modification of will or prior codicils, if any;
  • Acknowledgment of revocation of prior codicils, if any;
  • Signature of Testator;
  • Proper witnessing;
  • Notary (for self-proving wills).

Codicils, of course, have the same general requirements of a will in that they must be in writing, properly witnessed, and the testator of sound mind, capable of understanding the instrument he executed.

A common practice for those persons who have lived in another state is to have a codicil prepared, thereby republishing their existing will and changing their legal residence to Washington and having the codicil notarized (self-proving), so that out-of-state witnesses need not be involved in proving the will. 

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