Codicils in Maryland
A codicil is essentially an amendment to a testator’s last will and testament. A codicil can be helpful if a testator is making minimal changes to the provisions of his or her last will and testament. For example, if a testator is substituting one personal representative or one trustee for another.
There are a number of reasons why a testator may consider executing a new last will and testament rather than executing a codicil. For example, if extensive changes are needed, or there has already been a codicil executed, it can be more efficient for a testator to execute a new last will and testament. In addition, multiple codicils can sometimes lead to confusion regarding the provisions. Someone who is deciding on whether a codicil or executing a new last will and testament would be more appropriate for them should contact a practiced Maryland wills lawyer for their advice.
Maryland’s Requirements for Codicils
In Maryland, a codicil must be executed in the same manner as a last will and testament. This means that a codicil must be in writing and the testator must have the requisite testamentary capacity. In addition, the testator must sign the codicil, and their signature must be witnessed by two witnesses. Generally, witnesses are over the age of 18 and are independent, meaning they are not named in any way in the last will and testament to serve in any position. While it is not required in Maryland for wills to be notarized, often, individuals will have a will notarized so that in the event the decedent or the testator moves to a jurisdiction where the notary is required than the notary is also present.
Changes in Codicils
Codicils in Maryland wills cases can be used to make any changes in a last will and testament. However, when the changes are substantive, then it may be easier and more efficient to redraft and sign a new will and testament rather than using a codicil to make an amendment.
Codicils can be used to make any changes in the document. They can be used to change the name of the fiduciary such as the personal representative. Codicils can be used to change the terms of the distribution, insert beneficiaries or take beneficiaries out of the will, or to change their representatives in which beneficiaries may inherit. They can also be used to change guardians of children and they can really be used to change anything that is written in the written will, but the greater the change or the more substantial the change, the more likely it is that the codicil can cause confusion. In addition, codicils must be executed with the same formalities required of last wills and testaments.
Important Considerations When Executing a Codicil
When considering executing a codicil, a testator may wish to consider the nature of the changes they want to implement. For example, a codicil or several codicils for one last will and testament can lead to confusion. In addition, the original codicil must be presented along with the original last will and testament for the probate proceeding. In some cases, a testator may consider executing a completely new last will and testament to incorporate his or her changes.
If a codicil is not executed correctly the codicil may be deemed invalid and the provisions in the testator’s original last will and testament may stand. The terms of the last will and testament may not reflect the testator’s most up to date wishes. To avoid the possibility of this happening, a person should consult with an experienced and knowledge wills lawyer in Maryland.
Relationship Between Codicil and Last Will and Testament
The codicil replaces certain provisions in the last will and testament, so in essence, it works as an amendment to the last will and testament. For example, if the testator said in their item three of the last will and testament that they leave the rest, residue, and the remainder of the estate to their son, John Smith, but later wants to change that distribution, then the codicil may say that the testator is now revoking the provision of item three and in its place is stating that the restaurant and the remainder is now going to be left to the daughter, Mary.
Typically, the codicil will state that all other provisions are to remain intact, meaning that the provisions regarding any other distributions or the nomination of a personal representative or any other provisions will still be effective, but rather just the specific provision is changed.
Interesting Ways Maryland Deals With Codicils
A codicil works to change or modify the provisions of a testator’s original last will and testament. For a codicil to be valid in Maryland, it must be in writing, signed by the testator, and the testator’s signature must be witnessed by two independent witnesses. In addition, the testator must have the requisite testamentary capacity to execute a codicil. In addition, just like with a will and testament, the original codicil must be filed during probate administration.
Often, when someone falls suddenly ill or is terminal, they wish to change their last will and testament. They may make handwritten changes to their last will and testament. Many times those handwritten changes are not deemed valid so the provisions of the original last will and testament stands. It is important to find a Maryland wills lawyer who will help you execute a codicil correctly and ensure that the original codicil is stored with the original last will and testament so that it can be presented.
Role of Lawyer
The role of a lawyer is often to draft the codicil in a Maryland wills case and make sure that it is coordinated with the original last will and testament. A lawyer may discuss with an individual or testator their changes, the scope of their changes, and whether or not to use a codicil or redrafting the last will and testament.