Step 3: “On Second Thought…” – Codicils
A quick aside before I consider the effect of making changes to your Will (referred to as a Codicil) or altering your Will, which is Step 3 of my estate planning discussion. Cable magnate Ted Rogers has passed away at the age of 75 (watch a video link here). He built his company, Rogers Communications, from one FM radio station into Canada’s largest wireless, cable and media company. I stumbled across an amusing anecdote from his early days as a boarding student at Toronto’s Upper Canada College – ostensibly he defied his school rules by rigging up an antenna in his dorm room to present TV shows and charging admission. From this early start he became a true pioneer of the Canadian communications industry and a prolific philanthropist. We extend our sympathies to his family, friends, and employees at this sad time.
Today I will briefly consider codicils – a document used to amend a Will’s original text. Ideally the use of codicils should try and be avoided, as current technology should permit making the necessary changes on a computer and simply re-printing the Will. This also has the advantage of not making it obvious to the beneficiaries (whose gift is being depleted or removed), and also avoids the possibility of transcription errors. However, in certain cases a formal codicil or even a holograph codicil (i.e. a very ill client) may be advisable.
In any event, avoid making changes to your Will without legal input as doing so may lead to family discord down the road if the proper formalities are not observed. Alterations on the face of your Will should be avoided (see Paul Trudelle’s blog on this issue here) – as such alterations typically require an application for the opinion, advice and direction of the Court.
Sarah Hyndman Fitzpatrick