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Drafting a Codicil Versus Creating a New Will

One of the aspects of writing a will that many people find intimidating is its finality. It’s not just a matter of wanting to avoid thinking about death, either. There’s also a perception that creating a will indicates final decisions — not just upon your death, but also upon the signing of the will.

Especially for those writing wills at relatively young ages or in seemingly fine health, feeling like you’re making decisions that have to stand forever can be nerve-wracking. After all, situations can change, and what seemed like a good idea when the will was drafted could make little to no sense in the future. Fortunately, like virtually any legal document, a will can be modified, either by adding a codicil or by creating a completely new version.

A codicil is a document added to an existing will when a change needs to be made. For instance, appointing a new executor, accounting for a marriage or divorce and adding a beneficiary are all situations that could (and should) prompt a change to a will. Drafting a codicil makes the creation of an entirely new will unnecessary, as it can be used to change, augment, amend or clarify items in the existing document.

Downsides of a codicil

However, codicils are also holdovers from a much earlier era and may no longer make as much sense as drafting a new will. For starters, today’s technology makes it far easier to change part of a will without having to recreate the document as a whole. Additionally, because laws change frequently and in complex ways, a codicil may fail to address relevant changes. Even if it does, it’s likely to be less efficient than simply making the necessary changes within the existing will.

To be on the safe side, and to make the process of modifying a will easier, many attorneys encourage their clients to modify their existing wills rather than adding a codicil when they feel like a change is necessary. For further guidance on this issue, consult a dedicated Florida estate planning attorney at the Charles Law Offices.

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