Codicils

Many estate planning clients have heard the term “codicil,” but do not understand its meaning or its use. Basically, a codicil is a republication of a previous Will that modifies that previous Will. Most like to think of the document as an amendment, since it modifies or eliminates certain aspects of a previous document. Therefore, in a general sense, a codicil is simply a method of revising or otherwise making changes to a Last Will and Testament which has already been validly executed by a testator. The testator’s new Will (the original Will plus the codicil) will be deemed effective as of the date inscribed upon the codicil.

A codicil must follow all of the same formal execution requirements as are necessary to validly create a Will. Therefore, all provisions of the Texas Probate Code that apply to proper execution of Wills also apply to those undertaking to create a codicil to their Will. This means that even a valid Holographic codicil may successfully amend a formally witnessed Will, despite the codicil not being executed in the same manner as the original Will. (For more information on Holographic Wills, please see the ‘Holographic Wills’ section of this website.)

This also means that the testator must meet the same threshold of “testamentary capacity” in executing a codicil as he or she had when executing the original Will. Not only must the testator be of sound mind, but he or she—just as in the creation of the Will—must also not be subject to undue influence in making the codicil. The same standards for challenging a Will under these methods will apply to challenging any codicil.

Several further considerations should be discussed with your Estate Planning attorney before undertaking the creation of a codicil, such as the proper identification of the provisions sought to be modified, the proper identification of the Will itself to be modified, the scope of the document, and perhaps most importantly, the proper use of the document as a whole. For instance, when only minor revisions are needed, a codicil may be the best method of accomplishing the testator’s goal; very often, however, it is an entirely new Will, and not merely a codicil, that is best for the testator’s circumstances.

As always, it is best to thoroughly discuss your estate planning options an address all of your concerns with regard to proper Will creation and modification with the qualified Wills and Trusts attorneys at Garg & Associates. Give us a call today.

We invite you to contact us for a consultation. Call Garg & Associates, PC at 281-362-2865 or complete our contact form.

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Garg & Associates, PC | 21 Waterway Avenue, Suite 300 | The Woodlands, Texas 77380 Please call 281-362-2865 | Fax: 866-743-4506
Serving The Woodlands, Spring, Houston, Conroe, Kingwood, Tomball, Cypress, Huntsville, Cleveland, Stafford, Montgomery County, Harris County, West Oaks, Memorial, Sugar
Land, River Oaks, Alief, Stafford, Missouri City, and Southwest Houston Texas.