What are codicils and how do you write one?

Sometimes major life changes occur, which will directly impact an existing will. For example, if you get married or divorced, or you want to change your executor. However, it can be expensive to get a completely new will written. In these circumstances, you will want to create a codicil.

Please note, a will is a legal document, so you will need to seek professional legal advice. Below is an introduction to the process, but always speak to your own lawyer to understand what is required for your circumstances.

What is a codicil?

You might have spent days or even weeks creating a will, but what happens when you want to make an amendment? It can be an expensive task to redo your entire will just for one small change, which is why codicils exist.

A codicil, by definition, is a testamentary document which you can use to amend your will. It’s mainly used to make small adjustments, such as deleting a particular provision or making a specific gift to a named individual.

“While it is best practice to make a new will when changes are needed, codicils a more cost-effective way of updating your wishes without paying for a new will,” says Delphine Copeland, Solicitor Director at Copeland Estates Legal. “Because a codicil doesn’t replace your will, it only amends part of it, your will and codicil together form your last testamentary document and should always be kept together.”

How to write a codicil to a will

While it may seem confusing – especially if you have already gone through the time-consuming process of creating a will and involving lawyers – writing a codicil can be comparatively easy. You just need to contact an estate-planning lawyer, make sure you have your original will handy and have a chat with your lawyer about which parts of your will you want to change. Head to the Law Council of Australia to begin your search for the correct lawyer for your needs.

The codicil document will generally contain:  

  • Details of whomever is creating the codicil.
  • Whether this is the first codicil or an additional amendment to the will.
  • The date that the will is being amended.
  • Specific references about how the will is being altered and the required changes to be made.
  • A statement that confirms the rest of the information in the will.
  • An attestation clause, which is used to authenticate the document with witnesses signing it.

Example of a codicil to a will

Your lawyer will be able to walk you through how the codicil will be written and what must be included, but you can also find examples of free codicil templates online. Here is an example of one, which may be helpful to see:


I, [NAME] (the ‘Testator’) of [RESIDENCE/LOCATION], declare this to be my codicil (my ‘Codicil’) to my last will and testament being dated [DATE] (my ‘Last Will’).

1. Clause [INSERT CLAUSE] of my Last Will is modified as follow:

The beneficiary of [X] will be changed from “[Y]” to “[Z] of [NEW BENEFICIARY’S RESIDENCE/LOCATION]”.

2. I hereby confirm and republish my Last Will dated [DATE] in all respects other than those mentioned here.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have signed my name on this [DATE NUMBER] day of [MONTH], [YEAR], at [LOCATION], declaring and publishing this instrument as my Codicil to Last Will, in the presence of the undersigned witnesses, who witnessed and subscribed this Codicil to Last Will at my request, and in my presence.

[NAME] (Testator)



How much does a codicil cost?

The price of a codicil will depend on a number of factors, including the lawyer you use and the number of amendments you wish to make. The good news is that adding a codicil can be cheaper than writing a completely new will, and far less time-consuming.

“Codicils are usually fairly short documents, hence the lower cost, and can be prepared fairly quickly. Once prepared, a codicil needs to be signed and witnessed in the same way as a will,” Copeland says.

For the document to be legally valid, it must be signed and executed the same way a will is. This means the will-maker must sign, and witnesses must be present. It’s then attached to the copy of the original will.

Consider what else you should have in place

In addition to getting a will and using codicils to make any necessary amendments, it’s also important to consider your insurance cover, such as funeral insurance so that your loved ones don’t have to worry about expensive funeral costs during an emotionally exhausting time. For more information, or to request a quote, speak to Real Insurance today, call us on 1300 665 287.

If you’re unsure about funeral insurance we can explain how it works and how it might help put your mind at ease.