A codicil, or addendum, is a legal document that changes certain provisions of a will but leaves all other provisions unchanged. You can change, update or even revoke your will completely at any time as long as you are mentally competent. In this article we will look at some scenarios based on our experience of when you could make a codicil or consider a completely new will.
When does a codicil make sense?
There are no written rules for when a codicil is required instead of a completely new will. Common sense dictates that it is best only for small changes, which are unlikely to be contested.
The consensus is that a codicil is sufficient if you want to make minor changes, such as adding or deleting certain bequests, changing who should serve as your personal representative, or updating the name of a beneficiary or your representative due to their marriage or divorce.
When does a new will make sense?
Consider making a new will if the changes you want to make are substantial, such as adding your new spouse as a beneficiary after a marriage. It is also a good idea in the case of other significant changes, such as:
It is also important to clarify that your original will is revoked. Either destroy it, along with any copies that may exist or write “REVOKED” on each page with your initials or signature.
How to consolidate multiple codicils
What if you have made a series of three or four simple codicils over the years and now want to make another small change? Consider consolidating all your changes into a new will. It will prove helpful to the administrator of your estate, who will then have a single document to hand, rather than having to piece together the provisions of four or five separate documents.
It may also help the court recognize your will as valid because a new will spell out your final wishes instead of a conglomeration of provisions that may make your intentions seem unclear.
Note that a probate judge could declare your entire will invalid if the intentions appear uncertain, or they could decide to disregard some or all of your numerous codicils because the overall picture of your last wishes is confusing.
If a judge decides that your will is invalid, the result would be the same as if you died without leaving a will at all. Your estate would go to your next of kin under statutory provisions based on how closely related you are, even if this is not what you would have wanted. Your estate could go to the son or daughter from whom you have been estranged for years. In the absence of heirs, your assets could go to the state, even though you had intended them to go to charity.
Another concern is that the codicil could be separated from the will.
How to be sure that your codicil is legally valid
The codicil must be prepared under the relevant legal requirements, and the same formalities as for your original will must be followed. In Thailand, this means that two witnesses must be present and sign.
If you have any questions related to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]
Connect with me on LinkedIn
Fabian, a founding partner of FRANK Legal & Tax, is a German-trained lawyer with expertise in corporate/commercial, real estate law, and litigation, and has been practicing law in Thailand since 2005.