Disputes over the testamentary capacity of the deceased

The doctrine of testamentary capacity is meant to protect individuals from signing a will in a manner that may not accurately reflect how they would have bequeathed their assets if they had been of sound mind.

For a will to be considered valid, the person who is making the will must have an awareness of the consequences of their actions. If their testamentary capacity is disputed by a beneficiary, the court will consider a number of factors when determining whether a person was of sufficient soundness of mind. If one of the essential elements of producing a will is absent, then a person may not be seen to have testamentary capacity.

As a general rule, a person making a will must understand the nature of their assets, who their beneficiaries are, and not be suffering from a condition or illness that would prevent them from making a rational decision.

If there is any reason why a person may fear that their testamentary capacity may be in dispute, and their will subject to litigation after they die, there are a number of actions that may be undertaken by a person to prevent these issues: a medical certificate may be attached to the will, witnesses can make formal statements such testifying to the person’s mental capacity during the drafting of the will, or the signing of the will can be video taped.

If you have questions about testamentary capacity, please call us at 860-259-1575.