Understanding Codicil to Will Oregon: A Comprehensive Guide by White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC

Learn how to legally amend your will with a codicil in Oregon and how White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC can help you make effective changes to your will.

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What Is a Codicil?

In estate planning, a codicil serves as a valuable tool for ensuring that one’s final wishes remain relevant and legally binding. Essentially an amendment to an existing last will and testament, a codicil provides individuals with the flexibility to make changes to their estate plans without the need for a complete overhaul.

This legal document allows for modifications such as updating beneficiaries, adjusting asset distributions, or appointing new executors to reflect evolving life circumstances. However, while codicils offer convenience, it’s imperative to approach their creation with the guidance of legal professionals.

At White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC, our seasoned team practices in estate planning and will amendments. With our experience, clients can navigate the complexities of codicils with confidence, ensuring that their estate plans accurately reflect their wishes and comply with applicable laws.

Let’s delve deeper into the significance of codicils in estate planning and the importance of seeking legal counsel in their implementation.

Why You Might Need a Codicil

Modifying your will is essential to protect the people and things you care about at certain junctures. A codicil is a legal instrument designed to modify specific provisions to an existing will without the necessity of drafting a new one entirely. It serves as an amendment that allows for updates or changes reflecting your current wishes.

This addition to your will can be crafted for various reasons—a change in marital status, appointing a different executor, or updating your beneficiaries due to shifts in your familial landscape. 

It is important to recognize that even small changes in life circumstances can have substantial impacts on your estate planning. As you look to modify certain provisions of your will, a codicil enables these adjustments to be made seamlessly and cost-effectively.

Attention to detail in legal forms and adhering to legal formalities are critical in ensuring your intentions are captured accurately and that the codicil is legally binding.

Our experience at White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC encompasses a wide range of estate planning tools, including preparing and validating codicils. We are devoted to providing you with a personalized service that simplifies the complexities of estate planning, making the process of amending your will through a codicil as smooth as possible. 

Legal Requirements in Oregon

At White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC, we understand the intricacies of modifying a person at will through a codicil. To be legally recognized in Oregon, certain foundations must be in place:

Age and Mental Capacity

The testator must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old or legally married or emancipated if younger. This criterion ensures that the individual making the codicil does so with clear intention and understanding.

Codicil in Writing

A codicil must be documented in writing. It provides a tangible record that specifies changes to the original will, which guides beneficiaries clearly after the testator’s passing.

Signature Requirements

The testator is required to sign the codicil. This indicates their validation of the alterations being made to the will.


Two witnesses are necessary to observe the signing of the codicil. They must also sign that the testator is willingly and competently making these will modifications.


While notarization is not a legal necessity for a codicil in Oregon, it can provide an extra layer of certification. However, the absence of notarization does not invalidate a codicil that meets all other legal formalities.

These stipulations are aligned with our ethos of protecting what matters most to our clients. We are dedicated to facilitating the process, ensuring that every alteration to your will upholds your wishes and benefits your loved ones. Should you need guidance, feel free to refer to the detailed statutes under the Oregon Revised Statutes.

How to Create a Codicil to Will in Oregon

Creating a codicil to a will is a prudent step when you need to amend your existing last will and testament without drafting a new will entirely. Our estate planning attorney at White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC, can guide you through this essential process with clarity and care, ensuring your wishes remain accurately reflected.

First, identify the original date of your will to which the codicil will apply. This prevents any confusion about which document it amends. For a codicil to be legally valid and recognized in Oregon, it is imperative that it complies with the same formalities as when drafting a new will, as stipulated by ORS 112.285.

Next, let us assist you in drafting a written, legally binding codicil document that is clear and specific. It should itemize the exact changes to your will, whether you are adding or revoking bequests, changing executors, or updating guardian details. Precise language is key to avoiding potential disputes or issues during probate.

Execution Requirements

  • The codicil must be in writing.
  • It must be signed in the presence of two disinterested witnesses.
  • Witnesses must also sign, attesting to your capacity and voluntary action.

Seeking legal advice is more than just a recommendation—it’s a step toward protecting your legacy. As your attorneys, we ensure your codicil adheres to all legal standards and accurately reflects your intentions. 

Remember, estate planning is our passion, and ensuring your peace of mind is the heart of our practice. We’re here to make updating your estate plan as seamless as possible.

Potential Pitfalls of a Codicil

In our practice at White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC, we’ve seen how intended simple amendments with a codicil can result in complex issues. Here are some common pitfalls:

  • Multiple Codicils: Each codicil requires the same formalities as the original will—being witnessed and possibly notarized. With multiple codicils, the potential for confusion or contradiction increases, which may lead to disputes during probate.
  • Ambiguities in Property and Assets: Ambiguity in language can cause significant confusion about asset distribution. If a codicil isn’t crystal clear, it can mistakenly alter the distribution of assets in ways that weren’t intended.
  • Family Dynamics: In the context of family, changes in guardianship or the executor without clear communication can stir misunderstandings or disagreements among heirs.
  • Outdated Provisions: Failing to address all relevant changes. When an individual acquires new assets or there are changes to the family (like the birth of minor children), not updating the entire estate plan can leave gaps.
  • Probate Complications: Codicils can add complexity to the probate process, potentially increasing the time and cost to settle an estate.
  • Updating Trustee or Personal Representative Details: If not properly aligned, the roles and responsibilities between documents can conflict, leading to unnecessary complications.

When we weigh these pitfalls, sometimes it’s advisable to rewrite a will entirely rather than amending it with a codicil. A new will can avoid the uncertainty that comes with several appended modifications and can be especially important when significant life changes occur, such as major life changes such as remarriage, the birth of children, or substantial changes in assets.

As passionate advocates for your well-being, we ensure your estate plan is unequivocally expressed, considering all aspects of guardianship laws, trustees, and the welfare of minor children. 

How White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC Can Help

At White Oak Wills & Trusts, LLC, we understand that life brings changes, and often, your estate planning documents need to reflect those updates. Drafting a codicil to your will is a precise activity that ensures your testamentary intentions are kept current without the need to draft an entirely new will.

Our Services:

  • Codicil Drafting: We provide careful and thorough drafting of codicils to amend your existing will as life changes occur.
  • Will Review: Our team will review your current will to ensure it aligns with your desires and circumstances.
  • Comprehensive Advice: We offer guidance on whether a codicil suffices or if drafting a new will is more appropriate for your situation.

We take pride in our role as your legal partner in protecting what you cherish. Estate planning is not just what we do; we do it with genuine passion and diligence because we care about you and your other family members’s well-being.

By partnering with us, you can rest assured knowing that your estate plan, including any codicils, is crafted and reviewed professionally. We ensure that the changes you wish to make are effective and compliant with Oregon’s legal requirements.

Keep your will up-to-date with our help. Contact us for bespoke advice and assistance with updating your will through a full codicil form. Your peace of mind is our utmost priority.

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