Published by a LexisPSL Private Client expert

The following Private Client practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Codicils
  • Meaning of codicil
  • Formalities and drafting points
  • Construction and effect in general
  • Confirmation of Will by codicil
  • Revival by codicil
  • Revocation by codicil
  • Reasons for a codicil
  • Finance Act 2006
  • Transferable nil rate band
  • More...


Codicils may be used for making any alteration in a Will, such as to alter the executors or make changes in legacies, whether by addition or deletion. As a general rule, substantial changes are best achieved by means of a new Will and codicils are more appropriately used for the purposes of making minor alterations, such as a change of executors or an additional legacy. However, care needs to be taken even if only making a slight alteration by codicil as any changes can easily cause confusion.

Care must be taken when drafting a codicil. In particular, ‘as if’ revocatory clauses are particularly risky for the reason stated by Megarry J in Re Lawrence's Will Trusts:

'In truth, "as if" clauses are perilous devices: it is a rare draftsman who can foresee all the possible consequences of a relentless application of the hypothetical state of affairs that he is bringing into being.'

Given that the words ‘as if’ are often used in codicils, care must be taken and a new Will considered. A change to one part of the Will can render other parts in need of change, so a review of the original Will in the light of any change is required. In cases of urgency a codicil may be the only viable option.

Meaning of codicil

A Will or testament is a declaration, made in accordance with

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