A codicil is a written document used by attorneys and lay people to amend an existing will. By executing a codicil, you do not have to redraft your entire will. Instead, your codicil amends the existing terms of your will. Although using codicils made sense to people before the inventions of word processing software and computers, they may not make much sense now.
Before we relied on computers and word processors, we had to handwrite our wills. Before carbon copies and copy machines, we had to draft several copies of wills by hand. After the invention of copiers and carbon copy paper, drafting multiple copies of an individual’s will became easier, but to change an existing will, an attorney or someone else had to redraft the entire will. As you can see, amending a will by adding a clause or by codicil was an easier task to accomplish than redrafting your entire will. However, computers and word processors changed everything for estate planning lawyers. Now, many estate planning lawyers prefer drafting a new will instead of amending an existing will by codicil. Because your state’s law probably requires you to comply with the same statutory formalities to draft a new will as it requires to amend an existing will by codicil, drafting a codicil does not eliminate the requirements to have witnesses sign your codicil.
By drafting a new will to replace your existing will instead of changing it by codicil, an attorney can make sure there are no conflicts. Furthermore, if you have global changes, your attorney will most likely draft a new will.