A codicil is a legal term for an addition or change made to a will after the will’s initial execution. Codicils are allowed in New York, yet it is unusual that you will find an attorney that will suggest that you actually use one. In fact, some New York estate attorneys would advise against using a codicil for any reason.
Codicils really go back to a time before computers when changing a will, especially one that was very long was extremely difficult. Now, your lawyer would likely have saved a copy of the original file in some sort of electronic form, meaning that making a change would be a lot simpler. During that time, your New York estate attorney can help you decide if there are any other changes you wish to make or if you want to adjust your estate plan in any way. Because of this, it is really for the best that you write a new will.
When you write a codicil, you are running into issues about whether or not the laws have changed in a way that will make whatever change you are making unviable. Codicils can open up your will to being the subject of litigation between your heirs, especially if changes are done in any handwritten way. It could create questions about what your intent was at the time the codicil was executed.
There is one limited exception where a codicil may make sense. When you destroy a will, your estate does not go back to how things were in your old will. Instead, your estate would be treated as an intestate estate. If for some reason, there was an emergency and you needed to invalidate a new will and go back to the old one, a codicil might be an option in such a situation. However, a codicil cannot invalidate a will, simply put it back in good standing. It would be strongly advised that this only be used until the client can meet with his or her attorney and come up with a brand new will. This, admittedly, is a highly unusual situation.
Codicils are a part of estate law that has fallen way out of fashion and it is rare that you will find a modern estate attorney suggest one today. To have the best estate plan, it is better to start with a new will with the help of your New York City estate attorney. If you are looking to change your will, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.