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Codicil amendment form instructions

Updated March 28, 2017

A codicil refers to a document that makes changes to an existing last will and testament. Codicils generally must meet the same statutory requirements as wills. Namely, they must be in writing, provide clear directions and be signed, witnessed and dated. Codicils do not stand legally on their own. They must be integrated with the reading of a will to possess legal enforceability. Therefore, being certain that a codicil is successfully integrated with a will is paramount.

Identify the will being amended. Refer to the will by the date it was executed and by the parties who signed it. Integrate the codicil with the will by fastening the two documents together with a staple. Store the codicil and will together for safekeeping. Do not allow the will and codicil to become separated under any circumstances. Consider filing the will and codicil for safekeeping with the county probate court.

Avoid ambiguity. State the amendments in the codicil in plain and concise language. Have a third party read the codicil to be certain the new terms are not confusing or ambiguous. Do not attempt to make complicated, long changes in a codicil. Use a codicil for simple amendments. Consider an entirely new will, not a codicil, to accomplish lengthy or in-depth changes.

Republish the original will. Republish the unaltered terms of the original will by stating in the codicil "all other terms in the referenced last will and testament remain in full force and effect."

Sign the codicil. Have the maker of the codicil sign it in ink. Affix the date the codicil was signed next the maker's signature. Have the codicil witnessed by two adult, competent parties. Do not have individuals who are receiving assets in the will or codicil serve as witnesses. Have the witnesses be able to verify the maker was competent and signed the codicil freely.

Consult an attorney. Seek the advice of an attorney to assist with the preparation and execution of a codicil. Rely on an attorney to be certain you are complying with all applicable, state laws affecting codicils. Verify that the selected attorney is familiar with relevant estate planning laws that regulate codicils.

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About the Author

Maggie Lourdes is a full-time attorney in southeast Michigan. She teaches law at Cleary University in Ann Arbor and online for National University in San Diego. Her writing has been featured in "Realtor Magazine," the N.Y. State Bar's "Health Law Journal," "Oakland County Legal News," "Michigan Probate & Estate Planning Journal," "Eye Spy Magazine" and "Surplus Today" magazine.