A will is one part of an overall estate plan, designed to make sure your wishes are respected and your family is protected. But creating a will isn’t the end of it—estate planning is a regularly updated process where you and your attorney work to include everything.
Scenario 1: you’ve written your will, reviewed it, signed and dated it, and your lawyer has taken care of the rest. Then you get back into your car and halfway back to the office you realize you forgot to include something.
Scenario 2: it’s been a few years since you’ve looked at your will and estate plan, and your lawyer, spouse, children or other person is asking about it. Meantime, you’ve moved, changed jobs, opened, closed, or sold a business, gotten married or divorced, welcomed new children or grandchildren, or experienced any number of life changes. Does your current will cover everything, or do you need to make changes?
Depending on the circumstances, a codicil supplements your current will and can address these changes accordingly.
Enter The Codicil
In both of these scenarios, something overlooked can be included with a codicil, an additional supplement to your will to address the omitted item. A codicil isn’t as simple as typing in new information and initialing it in your attorney’s presence with witnesses. This is a separately drafted document can remove, add, or change specific provisions in the original will.
The codicil doesn’t change the entire will or revoke it, only makes an update where specified.
Creating The Codicil
As we’ve mentioned previously, handwritten wills are not legal in Illinois, and neither is a handwritten codicil. In order to create one, it must be created and executed in the same way as your original will. That is, in Illinois, it must be:
- The codicil must be signed by the original will’s creator, “the testator,” in the presence of at least two witnesses
- The witnesses must execute the will simultaneously with the testator
- The testator and the witnesses must all be at least 18 years old and of sound mind at the time of the will’s execution
Again, the codicil doesn’t completely revoke the will, only adds an addendum to the current one. Revoking a will must also be done in the aforementioned manner as the original will, and executing an Revocation Of Will document.
Create A Codicil Or Start Over?
This is where your estate planning attorney can help you decide the next step. How much do you want to change? Would this codicil just update one point, or would it essentially give your will a do-over?
If you’re just making a few small changes, a codicil will likely be all you need. If multiple changes are required, or your current will already has several codicils, your attorney may advise that you draft and execute a new will incorporating all the needed changes, then revoking the previous will and all the associated codicils.
Creating a new will with major changes and revoking a previous will eliminates the possibility of conflicts, confusion or ambiguity during the probate process, making it easier on your executor and your family.
Call Provenza Law To Review And Update Your Will
If you haven’t reviewed your will in a year or more, it’s time to revisit it. You may find you need a codicil, or it’s time to draft and execute a new one.
James C. Provenza is a leading Illinois estate planning attorney with years of experience helping clients with estate planning to make sure their wishes are carried out. Call our firm today at (847) 729-3939, or use our online contact form to make an appointment. We’ll help you decide which will fit best into your overall estate plan.