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Estate planning and understanding Maryland law about codicils

On Behalf of | Sep 3, 2021 | Estate Planning

In Maryland, a basic part of estate planning is creating a will. This is important for people in any financial and family situation to ensure their property is distributed as they choose. The person – the testator – does not need to have a significant amount to create a will. However, those who do have substantial assets such as a business, a home, items of sentimental value, bank accounts, investments and the like should strongly consider having a will and other estate planning documents. It is also wise to know how to update a will.

Key points about a codicil

Regardless of the circumstances, there are times when a person has completed a will and wants to change it. The change to a will is called a codicil and knowing how to ensure it is legal is key. After a will is written, the codicil amends it. If, for example, the person was married at the time of the original will and subsequently got divorced. The former spouse who had been named in the will can be removed from it with a codicil. There can also be more than one codicil. Hypothetically, if this same person got remarried and wants to name the new spouse in the will, then another codicil is necessary.

To be valid, a codicil is subject to the same rules as the original will. This means that there must be a minimum of two credible witnesses who will sign it in the presence of the testator when it is executed. In some instances, there are multiple wills and this is the foundation for dispute among the heirs. If there is more than one original will, the general rule is that the latest will is applicable. This is due to most wills including a provision that will render previous wills invalid. It is imperative for a testator to make certain that the latest will is the one that will be adhered to at the time of death.

Updating a will can present challenges that require experienced assistance

As part of estate planning, it is vital to be fully prepared and that includes avoiding disputes. People can question a codicil. This might be because they say the testator did not have testamentary capacity at its execution. It can also claim there was fraud or undue influence. This makes it critical that a person who is updating a will with a codicil does so according to the law. For help with creating a will, updating it or addressing any other concern related to an estate plan, it is useful to have assistance from the outset.


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