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What is a codicil? Understanding how to update your will

Creating a will is an essential part of estate planning but it's not uncommon for people to forget to update their will as their circumstances change. If you've made a will in the past and need to make changes to it, you might be wondering if you need to create an entirely new will or use a legal document called a codicil. However, there is a more affordable and convenient option: write a new will using an online will kit.

What is a codicil to a will?

A codicil is a legal document that allows you to make changes to your existing will. While codicils are a convenient option for making minor changes, there are limitations to what you can change using a codicil. For example, if you want to change your executor or beneficiaries, you may need to create an entirely new will.

It's crucial to ensure that any changes made through a codicil comply with the legal requirements in your jurisdiction. For instance, most provinces require that the codicil is signed by the testator (the person making the changes) and witnessed by at least two witnesses. Failure to follow the legal requirements could result in the codicil being legally invalid. Therefore, it's always advisable to consult an attorney when writing a codicil, especially if the changes are significant.

The concept of a codicil to a will dates back to ancient Roman law, where it was called a "codicillus." Roman law allowed testators to modify their wills by adding a codicillus without having to create an entirely new will. The English legal system later adopted this practice in the 16th century, using the term "codicil."

In the past, writing a new will was often a complicated and time-consuming process, involving handwritten documents and witnesses. In that time, codicils were a practical solution for testators who needed to make minor changes or amendments to their wills. However, the modern legal system has made the process of creating a new will much simpler, and electronic wills are becoming increasingly common. For example, LegalDeeds can write a Last Will and Testament within minutes for a tenth of the price a lawyer would charge for a codicil. You just answer a few questions online and LegalDeeds emails you a new will in PDF format.

Despite these advances, codicils are still used today as an option for making minor changes to a will when people are uncomfortable using online will forms. However, creating a new will can still be a more effective option if you have many changes to make, or if you want to make substantial changes that go beyond what a codicil can accomplish. Additionally, if your existing will is outdated or no longer reflects your wishes, it may be better to create a new will rather than make changes through a codicil. When making a new will, it's important to consider factors such as your current assets, family situation, and estate planning goals. Check out our Canadian will writing guide to help you prepare.

Benefits of Using a DIY Will Kit

Using an online will kit can be a more affordable and convenient alternative to using a codicil. With easy-to-use software for preparing legal documents, you can create a legally binding will online in just minutes, without having to consult with a lawyer or go through the hassle of creating a codicil.

DIY will kits are affordable and convenient, and might be the perfect solution to your estate planning needs.

  • Affordability: While it might be surprising that creating a new will is cheaper than using a codicil, using an online will kit is much more affordable than hiring a lawyer to draft a new will or a codicil. Making a large amendment to your will via a codicil will put you back $500 to $600. Meanwhile, you can write a new will online for only $50.
  • Convenience: To use a codicil, it is recommended to visit and consult with an estate planning attorney. Finding the right lawyer near you, booking appointments, and spending time talking can take a lot of time. In comparison, you can create a new will online within minutes, all from the comfort of your home and without having to visit a lawyer's office.

By choosing LegalDeeds' online will kit, you can save time and money, while also ensuring that your estate is taken care of in the way you want. Additionally, with LegalDeeds' online will kit, you can easily update your will whenever your circumstances change.

How to update your will

There are several ways to update a will, depending on the extent of the changes you want to make:

  • Use a codicil: If you only need to make minor changes to your will, such as adding or removing a beneficiary, you may be able to use a codicil instead of creating a new will. A codicil is a legal document that is used to modify or amend an existing will.
  • Create a new will: The simplest way to update a will is to create a new one that reflects your current wishes. This means that you will need to revoke your old will and create a new one that supersedes it. It's important to make sure that your new will is properly executed and meets the legal requirements in your jurisdiction.

Creating a will for free by handwriting it

So, how do you create a new will? Some jurisdictions allow you to make a “holographic will”. A holographic will is a handwritten will that is created and signed by the testator without the presence of witnesses. In some jurisdictions, holographic wills are recognized as valid and enforceable, even if they do not meet all of the formal requirements of a traditional will. To be considered valid, a holographic will must meet certain requirements, which can vary by jurisdiction. For example, it may need to be entirely in the handwriting of the testator, dated and signed by the testator, and include specific language indicating that it is intended to be a last will and testament.

Holographic wills are not recommended by lawyers because they can be subject to legal challenges and may not be interpreted according to the testator's true intentions. It's generally best to create a formal, legally-valid will to ensure that your wishes are properly documented and legally enforceable.

Creating a will with an estate planning attorney

The most conventional approach to creating a new will is through consulting an estate planning attorney.

Creating a new will with the help of an estate planning attorney typically involves the following a number of steps:

  1. Find an estate planning attorney: You can search online for estate planning attorneys in your area or ask for a referral from friends or family. It's important to choose an attorney who is experienced in estate planning and who you feel comfortable working with.
  2. Schedule a consultation: Once you have found an attorney, schedule a consultation to discuss your wishes and goals for your estate plan. During the consultation, the attorney will ask you questions about your family, assets, and other relevant information to help them understand your unique circumstances.
  3. Draft the will: Based on your wishes and goals, the attorney will draft a will that meets your specific needs. They may also recommend additional estate planning documents, such as a trust or power of attorney, to ensure that your wishes are properly documented and legally enforceable.
  4. Review and sign the will: Once the will is drafted, the attorney will review it with you to ensure that it accurately reflects your wishes. You will then need to sign the will in the presence of witnesses and a notary, as required by law.
  5. Store the will: After the will is signed, the attorney will provide you with a copy and store the original will in a safe location.

It's important to keep your will up to date as your circumstances change over time, such as if you have a new child, acquire new assets, or experience a major life event. Your estate planning attorney can help you update your will as needed to ensure that your wishes are properly reflected in your estate plan.

Creating a will with an online will kit

You can create your will at any time, from anywhere. LegalDeeds' online will kit writes a custom will that meet your specific needs. No signup, subscriptions, or hidden fees are required. The online will form only takes a few minutes to fill in.

You can add or remove beneficiaries, choose an executor, and more. LegalDeeds' online will kit is designed to meet the legal requirements for a valid will in Canada. Your will is created using a step-by-step form that ensures your will meets all the legal formalities.

If you want some support on creating your will, you can check out our in-depth will writing guide and estate planning glossary before using our quick and easy website.

Here are the steps LegalDeeds’ online will form will go through.

LegalDeeds clearly explains what legal terms mean

Writing a will on LegalDeeds

You fill in the details of your will

Online will form

LegalDeeds will walk you through everything you need to consider, including:

  1. Identifying your beneficiaries
  2. Choosing an executor
  3. Specifying how your assets should be distributed
  4. Nominating guardians for your children (if applicable)
  5. Outlining your final wishes for funeral arrangements

You review your will for free

Previewing a Last Will and Testament

LegalDeeds lets you read your final document without an account or credit card information.

Checkout and pay

LegalDeeds emails your watermark-free document within seconds. It’s that easy! Following these steps will ensure a legally-valid will while saving hundreds of dollars in a quick and convenient way.

Don't wait any longer and write your will online with LegalDeeds! You could have a new will minutes from now.

When to talk to a lawyer

You should talk to an estate lawyer if you complicated estate-related questions. LegalDeeds is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice.



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