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What is a codicil?

by | Jun 20, 2022 | Wills & Estates

A codicil is a legal document which acts as an extension to your Will so that you can make minor changes or adjustments to your Will without having to rewrite the original.

When is a codicil used?

As mentioned above, codicils are used to make minor changes to a Will.  These can include:

  • Replacing or appointing a new executor;
  • Amending specific gifts or adding new ones; or
  • Replacing or amending beneficiaries to your residuary estate.
Things to consider when making a codicil

For a codicil to be valid, it has the same legal requirements as a Will and therefore if not done correctly, can create problems in the future.  When making a codicil, you should consider the following:


A codicil must have certain information provided in it to make it a valid testamentary document.  This includes your full name and address, the date of your original Will you are making amendments to and clear expression of the changes you wish to make so that there is no uncertainty in the future.


A codicil is still a testamentary document and for it to be legally valid, it must be signed in the same way a Will is – that is, signed by the willmaker in the presence of two independent adult witnesses.

Once a codicil is signed, it is attached to your original Will and stored securely.  Upon your death, your executor will need both the original Will and the codicil to ensure your estate is administered correctly.

Revoking or reviving

A codicil can also be used to evoke, or cancel part of your existing Will or revive an earlier Will.  It is recommended that should you intend either of these that you seek assistance from your lawyer because you need to take care to not revoke your entire Will or revive the wrong version of your Will.

Common problems

Some examples of common problems include:

        • Not stating the correct date of the original Will or, not dating the codicil when signed;
        • Uncertainty as to what changes are being made to your Will;
        • Not storing the codicil with the original Will; or
        • Multiple codicils created resulting in confusion and uncertainty.
Codicil versus new Will

A codicil can be a quick and cheaper option should you only be making a minor change your Will.  However, unless the changes are relatively simple and straightforward, it would always be recommended that you make a new Will.  Making a new Will can reduce the risk of those common problems mentioned above and can provide peace of mind that your intentions are clearly stated so that your loved ones can action your wishes upon your death.

How can Nevett Ford help?

Our Wills and Estate Team in Melbourne will assist you in either making a codicil to your Will or can assist you with your creating a new Will that offers protection of your assets, sets out your wishes clearly and provides you with the peace of mind that your estate will be managed after your death.  For more information please contact us on 03 9614 7111 or email at melbourne@nevettford.com.au.