What is a Codicil?

17 Sep 2023 | Sophie Price
osbornes law writing pad

Table of Contents

What is a codicil to a will?

Life has a habit of changing and your will may need to change with it. A codicil is a legal document that adds to or changes your will in some way, so you don’t have to make a new one. It’s a useful tool for keeping everything up to date while leaving the majority of your will intact.

Adding a codicil is the only way to legally make changes to a will once it has been signed and witnessed. It’s a simple document that may only be a few paragraphs long. The codicil sets out the specific changes or additions you want to make while leaving the rest of the will as written.

If you use a codicil, it’s important to store it together with your will so your executors can find it when the time comes.

When would you use a codicil?

Codicils can help you make minor changes to your will. Reasons for doing this include:

  • Adding a new executor
  • Removing an ex-partner as a beneficiary
  • Adding new beneficiaries
  • Changing your funeral arrangements
  • Cancelling a specific gift
  • Leave a gift to a charity

What makes a codicil valid?

You can write a codicil yourself but it’s better to have a solicitor write it for you. The codicil has to meet certain formalities to be valid, including that it is clear, refers to the original will and contains an acknowledgement that the codicil overrules anything stated in the original will that it affects.

The codicil needs to be signed and dated by the will maker and witnessed by two people in the same way as the original. You don’t have to use the same people who witnessed your will, but they must be over 18 and independent – not a beneficiary or a spouse or partner of a beneficiary named in the will.

How much does a codicil cost?

The cost of creating a codicil varies from solicitor to solicitor. The cost depends on the complexity of the original will and the changes you wish to make.

When should you make a new will instead of a codicil?

If a codicil makes drastic changes, lots of changes, or you already have multiple codicils, it’s recommended that you make a new will instead. When you die, you want to leave your executors with an easy-to-read document that makes your wishes clear. Using a codicil for big changes will only muddy the waters. If executors are confused about what to do, the court may get involved to oversee the administration of the estate.

It is always better to write a new will if you are getting divorced, getting married or you have a new addition to the family. These milestones can change the way you want to distribute your estate and a new will is the best way to ensure this happens.

How can we help?

The wills lawyers at Osbornes are experienced in codicils. Contact us for specialist advice by calling 020 7485 8811.

Share this article

Contact

Contact us about a Codicil

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you






    • A private client team offering a range of services to assist with private client matters including trust and probate services. A friendly approach with a keen eye for detail.

      Legal 500 2024

    • I have been a client of this firm for a number of years and been impressed by particular individuals, the care and thoughtfulness with which they have worked.

      Legal 500 2024

    • An efficient firm which provides an excellent service at highly competitive charging rates.

      Legal 500 2024

    • The team receives a steady flow of instructions from high-net-worth individuals and families on an array of tax planning, wealth preservation, estate and succession planning issues

      Legal 500 2024

    • I think this firm has excellent strength and depth in this area, for both contentious and non-contentious work, and they can hold their own against any other firm.

      Legal 500 2024

    • I have found them to be incredibly knowledgeable and pragmatic in settling claims for their clients.

      Legal 500 2024

    • The contested estates team is strong with talented young solicitors doing good quality work

      Legal 500 2024

    • The nimble team acts for a broad range of high-net-worth individuals and families on a variety of complex estate and trust litigation.

      Legal 500 2024

    • Osbornes has a ‘strong private client department’ and ‘the firm seems to be going from strength to strength’.

      Legal 500 2024

    • Thank you for managing my case, following a complete fiasco before I contacted Osbornes Law. I know that the work involved was rather complicated, possibly frustrating and often time consuming. I was impressed with your current knowledge of the case when we had the first meeting at your office. I regard a face-to-face meeting as imperative in developing positive relationships. Members of your team, such as Alex and Ella were impressive too, with their efficient, friendly manner of working.
      I am grateful for your patience, advice and excellent support at a difficult time. Hopefully it won't be necessary to contact you again regarding this matter! I will definitely use Osbornes Law in the future.

      Client

    • "Jan Atkinson, with her steely, steady, calming presence, instils confidence in the most highly-strung of us clients. With her masterful knowledge of the law, old and new, and its application, Jan can navigate through the most complex of cases to a successful end."

      Legal 500 2021

    • "I find Osbornes’ client-friendly approach welcoming and refreshing"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "A medium-sized London firm dealing with big litigation and doing it extremely well because of a depth of expertise and experience."

      Legal 500 2021

    • My family had the pleasure of Jan Atkinson working with us on the will and probate issues of [my mother's] estate in Camden and Ireland after she passed on last year. Jan and her assistant(s) offered us a fantastic service at a sad time.

      Client Review

    • "Jan Atkinson stands out for her wide-ranging knowledge and experience of estates; whatever problem you throw at her, she has seen it all before and is able to find a creative and sustainable solution. She has exceptional commitment to her clients and explores every avenue to find the best solution for them"

      Legal 500 2021 - Jan Atkinson

    • The team is very caring, experienced and detailed and was clear about the  next steps and offered very helpful advice and suggestions

      Legal 500

    • Jan Atkinson has extensive experience in private client matters, which underpins her excellent skills in the contentious probate area. Plus she is strong on international matters

      Legal 500 2020 - Jan Atkinson

    • A small but formidable team, punching above its weight. Jan Atkinson is a seasoned pro. Approachable but no push-over

      Legal 500 2020 - Jan Atkinson

    • "They are an outstanding firm to work with. They are consistently impressive in their work."

      Chambers UK

    • "Elspeth Neilson is very reliable and practical."

      The Legal 500

    • "The team frequently deals with cross-border estates for high–net-worth individuals."

      The Legal 500

    • "The team were extremely professional in putting my needs first. There was a joined-up approach to catering for the client, and all lawyers involved were briefed and constructive."

      Chambers UK

    • "Service prompt and effective. I have absolute confidence in Maggie."

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • I am happy with the service that I got and would recommend you to other potential clients.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • I found Osbornes always very helpful and efficient.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • We are very pleased with the services of Osbornes. Highly professional and through with close attention to detail.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • I would highly recommend Jan Atkinson in any probate matter and Osbornes Solicitors in any other legal matters.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • Jan Atkinson is a very proficient lady whom I would highly recommend to anyone involved in probates.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • Thanks for all your work and explaining everything so clearly. For any legal matters in the future I would not hesitate in instructing Osbornes.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • We have found your service to date as the most informative we have come across.

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates Client

    • Jan Atkinson is confident with a straightforward approach. Her practice covers both contentious and non-contentious matters, including wealth planning and estate administration.

      Chambers UK

    • I would like to thank everyone in my case for the excellent job!

      Wills, Probate & Disputed Estates client

    More Private Client InsightsVIEW ALL

    1. english countryside
      25.4.2024

      A Guide to Will Trusts

      What is a trust in a will ? Setting up a trust in your will can protect assets for your loved...

      Read more
    2. 25.4.2024

      A Guide to Asset Protection Trusts

      One good reason to place your assets into a trust is to protect family wealth without fearing for its future....

      Read more
    3. osbornes hampstead office
      25.4.2024

      What is a Mirror Will?

      Mirror wills are mirror images of each other and practically the same in every way. They suit couples, married or...

      Read more
    4. english countryside
      23.4.2024

      A Guide to Life Interest Trusts

      In today’s complex families, protecting assets for your children while ensuring that a surviving spouse can still enjoy them...

      Read more
    5. desk with flowers
      23.4.2024

      What is a discretionary trust?

      With a discretionary trust, there is no automatic right for beneficiaries to receive funds from the trust. Instead, the trustees...

      Read more
    6. night sky
      22.4.2024

      5 Things You Should Never Put in a Will

      When it comes to writing a will, you want to make sure that your wishes are known and that the...

      Read more
    7. Forged will pic
      22.3.2024

      Forged Wills

      If the contents of a will comes as a surprise, then one of the things to consider is whether the...

      Read more
    8. 14.2.2024

      What is Proprietary Estoppel?

      What is Estoppel? In general terms, estoppels operate where one party has acted on the basis of a statement made...

      Read more
    9. 14.2.2024

      Duties of Trustees

      What is a trustee? When someone sets up a trust, they will appoint trustees to manage the trust and its...

      Read more
    10. Deed of variation to a will
      3.11.2023

      Deed of Variation: Making a Change to an...

      What is a deed of variation? A deed of variation is a legal document which can be used to alter...

      Read more
    11. Constructive Trusts
      31.10.2023

      Constructive Trusts

      Property rights are not always clear-cut. Sometimes, a person who does not legally own a property could be entitled to...

      Read more
    12. man looking at a lake
      31.8.2023

      Can Someone With Dementia Make A Will or...

      It’s a sad reality in an ageing population that more people than ever suffer from dementia in the UK....

      Read more
    13. waiting
      31.8.2023

      Can a Lasting Power of Attorney Be Challenged?

      The number of people recognising the importance of making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) has risen dramatically in recent...

      Read more
    14. 10 tips
      26.7.2023

      Wills Disputes: The Duty To Account Is Not...

      Beneficiaries frequently ask us whether trustees or personal representatives can be required to provide a financial account. Their request may...

      Read more
    15. eu flags
      26.4.2023

      German Court Rules on EU Succession Regulation

      Succession laws vary from country to country which historically made the administration of cross-border estates potentially complex. Since 17 August 2015, the...

      Read more
    16. couple holding hands
      16.3.2023

      Are trusts protected from divorce?

      Can trusts protect an inheritance from your spouse? A trust is a separate legal entity. Neither spouse owns its assets....

      Read more
    17. the moon
      1.3.2023

      How to prevent someone contesting a will

      It is fairly rare in my experience for a parent to write a child out of their will but that...

      Read more
    18. primrose hill london
      8.2.2023

      Gifting Property to Children

      Can I gift property to my children? Gifting a property to your adult children is a relatively complex transaction but...

      Read more
    19. house in regents park london
      15.11.2022

      Contentious Probate Case Studies

      Contentious probate involving business assets Our contentious probate solicitors act for the defendants to a claim issued to pronounce in...

      Read more
    20. Closeup of a hand signing
      2.8.2022

      Do you need to register your trust?

      The Trust Register was introduced in 2017 as part of anti-money laundering regulations. Previously, only trusts with a UK tax liability...

      Read more
    21. Businessman and Male lawyer or judge consult having team meeting with client, Law and Legal services concept
      19.7.2022

      Beware of appointing your children as executors

      Where tensions exist between family members, making your children the executors of your will can cause huge problems with probate,...

      Read more
    22. older man on a bench
      1.1.2022

      Married with children from a previous relationship – how...

      There are several ways of doing this. If sufficient assets are available apart from the family home, dividing those between...

      Read more
    23. Elderly woman hold smartphone feels disappointed by received bad news
      18.11.2021

      Family Tensions and Deputyship 

      Disputes between a deputy and the family of the individual concerned, can escalate and become increasingly distressing if issues are...

      Read more
    24. Couple having counselling
      18.11.2021

      Particularly sensitive issues around mental capacity

      Mental capacity, the right to sex and the carer’s risk of prosecution  Does everyone have the right to a...

      Read more

    VIEW ALL