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A codicil is a written amendment to a will, used to change or revoke one or more terms of a will but not the entire will. In order to be valid, a codicil is subject to the same legal requirements as a will would be in a given jurisdiction; for example, if a will is required to have three witness signatures, so is a codicil.

Codicils to wills are often problematic, and as a result, many estate planning attorneys now recommend that clients use an entirely new will. The advent of modern word processing makes this a relatively easy task, and avoids the inherent risk of unintentionally altering or negating part or all of your existing will. Some of the reasons that a person may want to alter their existing will include:

  • The birth of new children or grandchildren
  • Divorce
  • Estrangement
  • Changed financial circumstances

Wills and codicils are governed by state law, which can vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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