One reason people have for not creating a will (not a good reason, to be clear) is that they feel that doing so is premature when they are not sure: 1) who exactly they will want to benefit at the time that they die, and 2) what exact property will be in their estate at the time they die.
To be sure, unless you have reason to believe your passing is imminently certain, these are issues that every person who creates a will must contend with, as, for the vast majority of people, passing on will be to some degree unexpected.
There is no reason to delay in creating a will, because the good news is that the law provides a method for people to update their will without having to create an entirely new will (although creating a new will is sometimes a good idea). By working with an estate planning professional to create what is called a codicil, you can make adjustments to the content of your will without having to start all over in creating a new will.
How a Codicil Works in Conjunction With a Will
Like a will, a codicil is a written legal instrument, and it must also be created with certain formalities to ensure that it will be legally enforceable. A codicil makes reference to a will that is already in existence, and it can be used to amend, delete, or add additional provisions to that will. A codicil can, among other things, be utilized to add new beneficiaries, switch beneficiaries, remove beneficiaries, and adding or removing property.
When you pass, your executor (or other party) will submit both the codicil and the will to which it pertains to the probate court overseeing the distribution of your estate.
When It Makes Sense to Create a Codicil
You may create a codicil at any time between the creation of your original will and the time that you pass on. There is also no limit on the number of codicils you create, and you can even use a codicil to amend or revoke a previous codicil.
Common situations in which people decide to employ a codicil include:
- After a marriage
- After a divorce
- After the birth of a child, grandchild, or other relative
- To benefit a new person who has entered their life
- To disinherit a person
- Following the death of a beneficiary
- When new property has been acquired
- When property in the will has been lost, destroyed, or sold
Other Options to Update Your Estate Planning
In speaking to your estate planning professional about updating your will via a codicil, he or she may also present estate planning options which are actually more advantageous to both you and your intended beneficiaries. Such options could include a living or testamentary trust, life insurance, or other device which avoids the costs and delay of probate while potentially providing additional benefits such as relief from creditors and taxes.
Update Your Estate Planning With a Pasadena Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning and probate attorney Christopher B. Johnson, located in Pasadena, California, has years of experience in all aspects of estate planning, and works with clients from all walks of life to create estate planning tools that reflect their needs and those of their beneficiaries. To request an immediate consultation, contact him today at (877) 755-9178.