Blob worrying about probate

What is a codicil to a will?

A codicil is a legal document that allows you to amend an existing will. This can be helpful if you want to add new family members or leave gifts to charities, but it’s better to write a new will for larger changes.

Contents
  1. What is a codicil to a will?
  2. How much does a codicil cost?
  3. Why might I use a codicil?
  4. When should I write a new will?
  5. What are the risks of altering a will with a codicil?
  6. Summary

Life changes a lot over the years, so it's important your will can change with it. When you first write a will, you may choose to share everything between your children. But as they move out, buy houses and create families of their own, you may decide that the money is better left to your grandchildren, other relatives or even charities.

In the past, you'd need a codicil to change part of your will, but with online will writing services like Farewill, you can make unlimited updates to your will for an annual fee of just £10 a year.

What is a codicil to a will?

A codicil is a document that alters part of your existing will but leaves the rest of the will intact.

They are separate to the will itself and need to be stored alongside your will. This helps to make sure your executors are aware of any changes you’ve made when sorting out your estate.

You can have a solicitor or other legal professional write your codicil for you, or you can write one yourself. However, in most cases, it makes more sense to write a new will.

If a codicil makes drastic changes to a will, the court may get involved to help oversee the handling of your estate. This is more likely if there are multiple codicils to the original will.

It's recommended that a new will is made for changes involving more than 10% of your estate.

How much does a codicil cost?

A codicil usually costs somewhere between £20 and £80. The amount you pay depends on which service you’re using and the complexity of the codicil. You could speak with local solicitors and look into online services to see which best suits your needs and budget.

You can't simply write on your will to update your wishes, as this could cause the whole thing to be voided by the court. You can only guarantee your codicil will be legally binding by using a professional service.

Why might I use a codicil?

You may want to use a codicil if you've already made your will with a traditional provider and want to make some small changes. This includes things like:

  • Changing executors, or if an executor has died
  • Removing an ex-partner or family member as a beneficiary
  • Adding new beneficiaries such as grandchildren or a charity
  • Updating your funeral wishes
  • Updating the name of a beneficiary
  • Leaving more or less money to a beneficiary

At Farewill, we allow you to update your will as many times as you’d like for £10 a year, but more traditional solicitors and will writers won’t offer this option.

When should I write a new will?

You may want to write a new will if you need to make a lot of changes, or if you want to alter how more than 10% of your estate is being divided up.

It would be best to write a new will if:

  • You are getting married
  • You want to change the way your property is distributed
  • You are getting a divorce or separating from your partner
  • You have a new addition to the family that you want to add as a beneficiary

With Farewill, you can write a new will for just £90 and update it as many times as you like for £10 a year. This is usually more affordable than getting a codicil from a traditional solicitor or will writer, who can charge as much as £80 each time you want to change your will.

What are the risks of altering a will with a codicil?

As a codicil is a separate document, it’s more likely to be misplaced or lost than an entirely new will. It’s considered bad legal practice to use a codicil to make large changes to a will, so if you want to change the way your property is handled, it may be simpler to write a new will.

It’s also simpler to write a new will if you’re making multiple changes over time.

At Farewill, we allow unlimited updates to your will for £10 a year, meaning there’s no need for you to write a codicil. You can simply log back into your account to update your will whenever you wish to make changes, no matter how big or small.

You can find out more about our online will writing service here.

Summary

  • If you write a will with a traditional will writing service or solicitor, you'll need a codicil to make any changes in the future.
  • Any codicils should be kept with your will so that the changes aren't missed by your executors.
  • You should only use a codicil to make small changes to your will. If you need to change how more than 10% of your estate is being handled, it’s recommended that you write a new will instead.
  • Codicils can lead to confusion if they’re used multiple times to amend a will.
  • Writing a new will makes things clearer for your executors and helps to ensure that none of your updates are missed.
  • If you’d rather have the freedom to make unlimited updates to your will, you may be better off with Farewill's online will writing service.

Article reviewed

Write your will online with Farewill

Our solicitor-approved will writing service can help you write a will online in as little as 15 minutes.

Get started today
Related articles
  1. How to update or amend a will
  2. Everything you need to know before writing a will
  3. How to avoid inheritance tax