California’s Probate Code defines a codicil as a “testamentary” document. This type of legal instrument may update or retract the instructions in an existing will. You may add a codicil to a valid will as often as you wish.
A range of circumstances may come about that reflect a need to update your will. The California Legislative Information website notes that a codicil must show both its creator’s intentions and signature.
Considering reasons to update your will or add a codicil
You may revise a will or add a codicil for any reason you find necessary. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance reports that common reasons for updating a will include changes in assets or estate tax laws. If you buy property, for example, you may change your will or add the new asset through a codicil. You may also name the individuals who should receive your newly acquired properties.
As lawmaking bodies and budgetary needs change, federal and state governments may modify the existing estate tax laws. Revising your will to reflect updates to taxation laws may allow your heirs to inherit their intended assets without incurring unreasonable tax liabilities.
Referencing your previous instructions in your codicil
The instructions in your codicil must be clear and reflect the related contents in your existing will or its previous revision. The probate court may not accept a codicil to a will unless the specified changes reference the document’s previous instructions.
Individuals with valid wills may revise their instructions by clearly defining their changes and intentions. Updating your will may help avoid disputes in probate court. A well-panned codicil could also prevent creditors from filing a legal action to take property from an heir.