The purpose of a will is to indicate how you want your estate to be distributed after you pass away. But once it’s made, it should be changed as your life changes. Too many people create a will, put it away, and forget about it, never realizing that by the time it is read, it may no longer adequately address new or altered relationships and circumstances.
Fortunately, it is a relatively simple matter to change specific sections of your will without creating an entirely new one. You accomplish this by using a form called a codicil, which is a separate document added to your original will. Below is a list of six reasons why a codicil might be advisable for a particular situation.
Your will is long and detailed
If your will is a short document and you have a lot of updates to make, it might be more expedient to simply draft a new will. If, however, your will is a longer, more complex document and the changes are minor ones, a codicil is a simpler way to bring it up to date.
You have remarried (or gotten married for the first time)
When you get married, you’ll want to provide for your new spouse in your will, whether it is a first marriage or the latest in a series. If the latter circumstance applies, a codicil can remove your former spouse as a beneficiary and replace him or her with your new husband or wife.
You have gotten divorced
After a divorce, you probably don’t want your former spouse to receive the bulk of your estate. That said, sometimes you want your ex-spouse to receive your estate so they can care for your children. Alberta law provides that a legal divorce voids the gift to your ex-spouse in your will, so if you want them to receive some of your property even though you are divorced you want to confirm this bequest in a codicil.
You need to name a new Executor
If you named your sister as executor and she subsequently moves across the globe, you might want someone closer to home to administer your estate. You can change executors by preparing a codicil that removes your sister’s name and replaces it with someone else’s.
A Beneficiary has died
If a beneficiary passes away, you need to update your will to allocate their share to other heirs or replace them with a new beneficiary. This can be easily accomplished with a codicil.
You become passionate about a cause
After drafting your original will, you may become passionate about a cause or acquire a favourite charity and decide to leave it some funds in your will. A codicil enables you to leave a portion of your estate to this cause or charity without creating an entirely new will.
Codicils need to clearly reference the section of your will that it is updating, so it’s advisable that you contact an estate planning lawyer to prepare them instead of attempting to add them yourself, no matter how basic the change may be. If you make a mistake, your codicil will likely be invalidated and your wishes won’t be properly honoured when the time comes.
For assistance in updating your will, contact the estate planning team at Estate Connection today. We will go over your new or amended wishes and ensure that your will is properly altered to reflect them.