A will is supposed to give clear guidance as to what to do with assets, thereby clearly indicating the will creator’s intent. But issues can arise when the mental capacity of the will’s creator is drawn into question. In fact, this can lead to prolonged probate litigation that can be costly and harmful to familial relationships. In some instances, though, that litigation is necessary to reach a just result.
What constitutes the requisite mental capacity for will creation?
There are essentially four aspects of mental capacity, and each of them must be met in order for someone to have the appropriate mental state to create a legally valid estate planning document, including a will. Here are those requirements:
- An understanding of the nature and extent of the property being dealt with in the estate planning document.
- An understanding of the natural objects of the property, which means that there’s an ability to identify the specific pieces of property being addressed.
- An understanding of how the estate planning document is disposing of the property in question.
- The ability to understand how all of these things are linked together into a cohesive plan.
Remember, the mental capacity threshold is relatively low, so even someone suffering from dementia can create a legally valid estate plan during a period of lucidity.
Seeking legal help when needed
However, if you’re dealing with a mental capacity issue, then you may want to discuss the matter with an attorney. After all, that may be the only way to ensure that you’re creating a legally valid document or that you’re presenting the appropriate arguments to contest a will or defend against a will contest.
If you’d like to learn more about this issue, then now may be the time to reach out to an attorney who you think is right for you.