In Washington, DC a codicil is used to make a minor change or amendment to a last will and testament. To be a qualified codicil, the execution requirements are the same as completing a last will and testament. The process can be completed under the guidance of an experienced DC wills lawyer.
Using a Codicil v. Restating Last Will and Testament
One way a person can a make change that requires a codicil is if they want to sub out one of the fiduciaries named in their last will and testament. For example, if someone named their spouse and their brother as their personal representatives, but the spouse no longer has the capacity to serve and the person just wants to name the brother, they can switch the order of the named fiduciaries. Any bigger changes, although they can be made in a codicil, can sometimes be confusing when someone is subbing out paragraphs of the last will and testament and substituting in the language of the codicil. It can be hard to track the documents through the changes. It may be sensible instead to deal with multiple changes by drafting a new last will and testament.
Requirements for a Codicil in DC
DC requires the same standards for a proper codicil as when someone is executing a last will and testament. The codicil should include an attestation clause. The testator has to have testamentary capacity and it must be witnessed by two independent witnesses over the age of eighteen.
What to Consider When Executing a Codicil
It is important for a person to remember they are creating a second document that is meant to accompany the last will and testament. They need to be sure that if they create a codicil, at all times the original last will and testament and the original codicil can both be found. If someone finds the codicil and not the last will and testament, the changes in the codicil may not be observed. If a last will and testament is found, but not the codicil, there is nothing in the last will and testament that reflects the most current changes for the distribution of a person’s assets at their death.
Interesting Ways DC Handles Codicils
Usually, the need for a codicil to a will is something that is probably best determined by the person’s wills attorney in DC who can guide them about whether they need to redraft their last will and testament. If the person wants to do a codicil, what is the proper way of executing it so that it is considered valid under DC law.
Value of a DC Wills Attorney
It is important for a testator to understand what they are changing and to make sure they have the proper execution requirements in the codicil. It is often prudent to have an attorney create the codicil. Often if the changes to a last will and testament are great, it may be sensible to draft a new last will and testament to incorporate all of the changes.
Codicils are a good tool to use for very minor changes. For example, if da name guardian for someone’s children can no longer serve, the person may do a codicil just to change that one provision. Codicils can be used to change multiple things, but it can become confusing to track the language and the codicils versus the original documents, and the help of a DC wills lawyer can be very beneficial in that regard. For multiple changes or for second and third codicils, it may be more efficient to rewrite the last will and testament to incorporate all of the changes.
It is important to know when the codicil is found to be an improper codicil; the person’s wishes revert back to the original last will and testament. If someone did intend to make changes, those changes are not reflected, if the codicil is not valid.