When you drafted your will, your attorney likely told you that it will be necessary to update it when there are changes to your family or your assets that impact the will’s provisions. This could include marriage, divorce, a new child, the death of your chosen executor and much more.
Unless there are multiple and significant changes to your will, you probably do not have to revoke the document and put a new one in place. You can add a codicil, which is a document that revises provisions in a will.
Like the will it’s amending, a codicil needs to be signed, dated and witnessed. You should keep it attached to your will so that it doesn’t get separated.
You can have multiple codicils. However, if you do, it’s likely best to revise the entire will. Otherwise, these codicils could create confusion about your wishes.
What kinds of changes are appropriate for codicils?
Minor changes to your will -– particularly those that don’t affect anyone else or their inheritance — can be addressed with codicils. Maybe you decide that instead of having your ashes buried in the family plot, you’d like them scattered off the coast of Massachusetts. Chances are that no one’s going to dispute that.
However, if you decide to leave considerably more money to one child than the other because they’ve been taking care of you as you aged, it would probably be best to revise your will. That will make a challenge by the child who’s getting less than they expected more difficult. Of course, it’s even better if you talk to your children about the change and your reasoning.
If you need to make changes to your will, talk with your estate planning attorney about the best way to go about it. This can help avoid confusion and conflict among your loved ones after you’re gone.