Codicils in Maryland wills cases are important. A codicil is a separate written document that is executed with the same requirements of a last will and testament in order to be valid that makes a change to a will. For example, if a testator would like to change who is serving as personal representative, they may complete a codicil for the will or an amendment to their will and make the change.
Sometimes, when there is more than one amendment or an amendment where a codicil is being drafted to amend substantive distribution privileges, it may be easier and more efficient to correct or rewrite a last will and testament rather than executing a codicil. Codicils can be confusing, talk to an experienced Maryland wills lawyer for more information.
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.
Codicil vs. Restating Last Will and Testament
A codicil is an amendment to an original last will and testament, so the original last will and testament and a codicil work together to express the testator’s wishes with the distribution of assets, the number of the assets, and the nomination of key fiduciary positions. A new last will and testament would revoke the prior last will and testament and instead be used to express their wishes of distribution and who should serve in key fiduciary positions.
Both the original codicil and the original last will and testament must be presented to the Register of Wills in the appropriate county in Maryland in order for the changes in the codicil and the remaining terms in the original will to be recognized. It is sometimes easier and more efficient to write a new last will and testament so that there is no confusion with regards to the efficacy of the codicil and the new last will and testament will just revoke the prior last will and state the changes that the testator wishes to be made.
Required Standards of Codicils in Maryland
Codicils in Maryland will cases must be executed under the same legal requirements as the original last will and testament where the testator must sign the last will and testament before two independent witnesses. The codicil must contain the attestation clause where the testator must be of sound mind, meaning that they need to test the material to pass the requirements to execute the codicil and the original codicil must be presented to the Registry of Wills in the event of the testator’s death.
What Constitutes Testamentary Capacity?
An individual or a testator must be of sound mind in order to execute a last will and testament. Generally, they must understand the scope of their assets and they must understand their wishes. They must execute the last will and testament without duress and they have to do so by their own free choice.
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.