Estate Planning


Some people may sometimes find it inconvenient at making a planned gift because they’ve already completed their will and mistakenly believe any changes mean an expensive, tedious trip to visit their estate attorney.

The good news is there’s always the codicil.

A codicil makes updating or changing a will fast and easy. If you have a few small changes to make to a will, such as adding a beneficiary (which can be your favorite nonprofit!), a codicil is the perfect choice. You simply identify the section you wish to change, then write the revision down in a new document that is attached to the existing will.

It’s important to note that a codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way that a will is. At present, just one state — Louisiana — also requires it to be notarized to become official. That’s still easier (and cheaper) than a trip to the lawyer’s office, though.

A codicil can be an important, effective, and easy-to-use tool if you are considering a planned gift. Familiarize yourself with this handy tool to making a lasting impact.

What Can be Changed With a Codicil?

A codicil can be used to:

  • Update beneficiaries, either by adding new ones (like the Foundation), or removing existing ones
  • Change an executor
  • Update guardians for minor children
  • Update gifts to a beneficiary, such as adding or remove gifts or changing an amount

How Should a Codicil be Structured?

  • It must clearly state that it is a codicil to your will.
  • It must include identifying information, including your full name and address, the date it was written, and a statement that you’re of sound mind and not under pressure from someone to make the changes.
  • It must explain which parts of the will are being altered by the codicil, include people’s full legal names, describe in detail the assets it refers to, and specify dollar amounts or percentages.
  • Finally, the codicil must include a statement that it overrides what was detailed in the original will, as well as a statement explaining that anything else in the will not affected by the codicil remains valid.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Codicil

An advantage is that a codicil can be drafted by anyone. One doesn’t need to hire a lawyer to make simple edits to a will. If you already have a will, just add our organization as a beneficiary through a simple revision in a new document — the codicil — which will be attached to the will.

However, if you want to make many changes or complicated edits, a codicil could make things more confusing, and it may be better to just draft a new will.

An important point is that a codicil still needs to be notarized with witnesses present. If someone simply attaches edits to a will without having them notarized, that document won’t hold any legal weight.