You may not expect to make future provisions when initially drafting your will. However, as you reflect on your relationships over time, you may want your assets passed down differently than originally intended. Your personal property, mementos, real estate, cash, stocks, and business interests are at stake. In your will, you may also determine who will serve as guardians for your minor children should you and your spouse die together.
Many of the decisions you make and put in writing will remain the same. However, depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may want to change aspects of your will to reflect your most current feelings. Instead of rewriting your will, you can amend it. Contact a qualified wills attorney to discuss codicils in St. Charles County.
Reasons to Amend a Will
Generally, attorneys add codicils to wills when the requested changes are minor. Complicated changes typically require a new will. If a testator attempts to make notes on a will that materially alters how assets are distributed—for instance, changing the percentages of assets beneficiaries will inherit—the courts can apply the doctrine of dependent relative revocation. The testator may assume the changes represent a codicil, which must be witnessed. Instead, the court will revoke the notes and revert to the will as it stood before the testator’s attempt at amending it.
People commonly add a codicil to an existing will when:
- The executor of the will passes away
- The testator remarries and now has stepchildren
- The testator wishes to change funeral or burial arrangements
- The testator wishes to leave additional assets to select charities
- Guardians named for minor children are no longer able to care for them
- The testator sells a significant asset and wishes to leave something entirely new to the beneficiary
- Beneficiaries’ tax consequences are significant, and amending how they receive assets should be updated to protect them
Although many issues can be managed by adding a codicil to a will, some rules govern addendums. Talk to a wills and trust attorney to learn more about St. Charles County codicils.
Requirements for Legal Codicils
Like Missouri wills, codicils must meet specific legal requirements to be valid in St. Charles County. Both must be in writing and signed by the testator, with the signature witnessed by two people. Testators who cannot sign the document—usually because of a disability—can ask another person to sign, although that person cannot be one of the witnesses. Additionally, testators cannot have been ruled incompetent by any court before executing a will or codicil.
A will and its codicils will be taken as one document during probate.
Revocation Is Another Choice
A wills attorney may suggest a client revoke an old will and execute a new one instead of attaching a codicil to the old one. This is preferable if someone wants several points to be amended. If the testator has not executed codicils in the past, the chances are greater that one or more of them may not make it to probate because they are lost, improperly executed, or conflict with another section of the will that has not been amended.
Codicils in St. Charles County Update Your Final Wishes
Planning for your estate’s disposition after you pass away can give you peace of mind about succession and beneficiaries. Hopefully, decades will pass before your will is probated. Life will likely change during that time, and you may want to rethink who the beneficiaries are and what they will receive. You may also want to determine who the guardians and executor will be and how to address new estate tax laws.
When thinking of amending or revoking a will, gather your current one and any earlier codicils. Discuss your situation with one of our seasoned attorneys about the changes you desire, and we will determine whether a codicil in St. Charles County suits your situation.