Since your will directs the distribution of certain property, you may wonder about the permanency of a will, and whether or not a will can be changed. At Meyring Law Firm, our codicils attorneys in Georgia have more than 10 years’ experience helping people write wills and plan for their estates; we believe in the importance of keeping a will updated, as well as your beneficiaries.
As a firm that focuses on helping clients obtain the best possible results, our codicils lawyer in Atlanta will listen to your goals and concerns and help you make any necessary changes to your estate planning documents, this way your estate plan truly reflects your wishes at all times.
What is a codicil?
A codicil is, by definition, an addition or supplement to a will. It essentially either adds to, removes from or alters what is already specified within a will. This legal gesture does not revoke the powers of a will; instead, it simply changes parts specified with the will and is admissible in probate court.
The codicil must be executed in a similar fashion to that of the living will. These requirements typically vary from state to state, but generally, you can expect for the testator to need to sign the codicil with witnesses present. A legal representative can help you guide you through the in’s and out’s of who can serve as a witness to your codicil.
An attorney will provide services as it relates to the codicil; since it is an amendment of an existing document, modifying that document, legal counsel will be experienced in going over both documents to ensure that there are no conflicts between the two. They will proofread the codicil and, if licensed to do so, can notarize the document, adding further protections. The codicil should then be sent out to anyone in possession of an existing copy of the living will so that there are no conflicts in thought as to what your last wishes are; this includes any institutions, financial or otherwise, that possess your original living will.
When should I use a codicil?
Typically, individuals looking to make updates to their will for a number of different reasons. Some of the changes that individuals tend to want to make, using a codicil, include changes to who you want to receive property in your will and how your property is to be divided amongst your heirs. In other instances, you might decide that you would like to change who the executor of your will is.
Other instances that would require a codicil include when you have obtained new property that you would like referenced in your will, or when you have sold property referenced within your will. There may also be other personnel changes necessary for your will that require a codicil, such as the passing of a beneficiary, the marriage of a beneficiary or the birth of a child that you would like to include. You may also need to change the designation of a guardian for minor children, or make updates once children age past their status as a minor. Additionally, there may be tax consequences that change that you would like to address within the will using a codicil.
How is a codicil typically used?
Amendments to wills are perfectly normal in the legal world. They’re necessary to keep the process of the will streamlined, avoiding any untimely updates or errors that weren’t accounted for in the initial will. Typically a codicil is useful when making minor adjustments to a living will; the aforementioned reasons all prove as useful reasons to use a codicil. You should work with an active attorney office when writing a codicil to ensure that there are no conflicts between the two documents; the entire purpose of the living will is to avoid such a problem from occurring.
In some instances, when an extensive codicil is necessary, it may be more fruitful to meet with legal representation and try to determine whether a codicil or an entire new living will is more necessary. The latter may prove useful and not as timely as writing the original living will; it will also avoid some of the confusion that multiple documents can introduce. Regardless, codicils are great to make an update that will carry out your last wishes with your estate.
Distributing Property Under a Will
A will is a legal document that directs how certain property is distributed after your death, this is called your probate estate. Your probate estate consists of all of the property that you owned at the time of your death and that was not distributed at the time of your death under a contract.
Probate assets include:
- Household furniture
- Cars registered in your name
- Real estate titled in your name
- Bank accounts without payable-on-death designations
- Stocks in bonds without transfer-on-death designations
Non-probate property, property that is not distributed under your will includes bank accounts with payable-on-death designations, life insurance with beneficiary designations, retirement accounts with death beneficiary designations, and property owned by you and another person as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Your will does not control who receives non-probate property.
How to Change or Revoke a Will
Since your will does not take effect until you die and the probate court admits it to probate, you can change your will at any time before your death providing you are mentally competent.
You change a will be executing either a written document called a codicil, which changes an existing will, or by executing a new will. A codicil in Georgia must be executed according to the same rules that apply to executing wills; however, you are not required to notify your beneficiaries if you change your will, nor do they need to approve any changes to your will.
You may revoke your will before your death, but the best way to revoke a will is to execute a new one.
Call a codicils lawyer in Atlanta today!
To learn more about codicil in Georgia, we invite you to contact our office to schedule a free case evaluation with a codicils lawyer in Atlanta. In this initial evaluation, we will answer your questions and help you determine which steps you need to take to accomplish your goals!