What is a codicil?

Montana residents interested in the estate planning process often wonder if it is required for a will to be notarized. While many estate planners take this precaution, no law makes this step a requirement. However, this the validity of a will still needs to be proven by witnesses or a codicil.

Validating a will

The signature of two witnesses can stand as proof that a will is valid. These witnesses must sign the will within a reasonable time after seeing the testator first sign the will or receiving confirmation from the testator that their signature is already present on the will. Witnesses to a will signing may one day need to testify in front of a probate court regarding the validity of the will.

Self-proving wills

The self-proving of a will is where testators who take the extra step of having their will notarized enjoy a clear advantage in the estate planning process. A notarized will is sufficient evidence to the court that the signatures of the testator and their witnesses are authentic. There is no need for witness testimony at a probate court when a will is notarized.

A notarized will becomes useful when one or more of the witnesses are either deceased or difficult to locate. A will becomes harder to validate in these situations in the absence of notarization because no one is available to authenticate signatures for the court. Considering the relative convenience and low cost of notarizing a will, it is difficult to find a reason not to take this precaution.

The addition of a codicil

A codicil can be added to an old will to make it self-proving. A codicil acts to change particular parts of a will and provides reaffirmation for other parts. The will is then “republished” with the codicil that self-proves the entire document.

It is natural for a person to be concerned for their loved ones once they can no longer be together. Individuals who make provisions for this eventuality will experience invaluable peace of mind. A lawyer experienced in estate planning may prove useful and help simplify the process.