The term codicil generally refers to a supplement to a will by which the testator alters or adds to his will. It may be nominated a codicil by the testator or held to be one by judicial construction. If it is to be operative at all, a codicil must of course be executed with all the formalities required by the statute of wills. But, just as it is difficult to describe a codicil without reference to a primary testamentary document, so also is it difficult to determine the status of an otherwise valid codicil when the will it supplements has been revoked. When the will has been revoked, either by an express act of the testator or by operation of law, how should a court treat a codicil which itself has not been mutilated with intent to revoke and not mentioned expressly by a subsequent revoking instrument?

It should be recognized at the outset that this question may be raised in either of two settings. First, should such an instrument be admitted to probate? Second, if admitted, what effect should be given to it? It is with the first of these two possibilities that this discussion is primarily concerned, for it is at the probate stage that the determination as to revocation must be made, and a probate court finding that the codicil has been revoked obviates the necessity for any inquiry into the meaning of its language.