How to Add an Addendum to a Will

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

How to Add an Addendum to a Will

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

If you create a last will and testament but later want to make a change, you can create a new will revoking the old will. As an alternative, you can create a codicil, which is an amendment or addendum to the will. State laws govern both codicils and wills, so make sure your new will or codicil meets all required legal formalities.

Person signing document

Step 1. Determine what you want to change, add, or delete from your original will.

Read your existing will to identify what you want to change. You can use a codicil to modify any part of a will, including nominating a personal representative, distributing assets, nominating a guardian, adding new provisions, or deleting provisions that no longer apply.

A codicil can identify any number of changes. However, if you make significant or substantial changes to multiple sections of your will, you might consider creating a new will instead of a codicil. When you create a codicil, you do not replace the existing will but simply add an amendment to the existing will. Changing multiple sections of your will using a codicil rather than a new will could cause confusion for your personal representative or executor.

Step 2. Create a codicil or a new will.

Whether you choose to create a codicil or a new will, make sure you understand your state's requirements. Your codicil, if you create one, should reference the date you signed your original will and should clearly specify what you are changing.

If you feel comfortable doing so and understand your state's laws, you can create your own codicil. Otherwise, you can hire an estate planning attorney licensed in your state or use a reputable online service provider to update your will.

Step 3. Execute the codicil or new will with the legal formalities required in your state.

Both wills and codicils require certain legal formalities to make them effective and binding. In most states, two adult witnesses must watch you sign your will or codicil and sign themselves. Some states also require a notary signature and stamp or seal.

If you create your own codicil that does not meet your state's requirements, it will likely be invalid.

Step 4. Keep the codicil with the original will.

After you execute your codicil, keep it with the original will and with any previous codicils. Remember that a new codicil merely amends and does not replace your will, so do not destroy the original document.

Keep your will and codicil(s) in a safe place. While you are not required to do so, you can provide copies of your will and any amendments to your nominated personal representative, beneficiaries, or family members.

If you filed your original will with your county or state for safekeeping, consider filing the codicil too so the version on record is accurate.

Step 5. Notify your nominated personal representative.

If you choose not to give your personal representative a copy of your will and any codicils to it, let them know the document exists and where they can find the originals if they need them.

Resources:

American Bar Association: Changing Your Mind

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.