The Requirements for Enacting a Codicil

The requirements for enacting a codicil are the same as for enacting a will. Whenever you write a codicil, you must:

  • Sign your codicil in front of two witnesses
  • Have both witnesses sign the codicil at the same time, either after they witness you signing the codicil, or after you have presented your signed codicil to the witnesses and acknowledged that the signature is yours

Both witnesses must be impartial—they should not be named beneficiaries to your will, and neither should they have any interest in its eventual resolution.

If your will and codicil were both drafted in your own handwriting, you may not require any eyewitness signatures.

However, handwriting a codicil without proper legal counsel drastically increases the probability of creating two conflicting, contestable documents.

Why Writing a New Will May be Easier

Estate planning attorneys often recommend that you avoid codicils and simply provide any desired alterations by writing a new will. While this may sound time-consuming, the process for enacting and verifying a codicil is the exact same as enacting and verifying a new will. A poorly worded codicil can also create conflict between the original will and its alteration.

Consulting your estate planning attorney to write a new will eliminates the possibility of any discrepancies between a codicil and a will and ensuring your legacy is disbursed how you see fit.


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.