Are you surprised by the estate plan that your loved one left behind? Were you left with less of an inheritance than you expected as a result? If so, then you need to take a closer look at the circumstances surrounding the creation of your loved one’s estate plan to see if there were any issues that may deem portions of the estate plan, or the estate plan in its entirety, invalid. One of those issues could be your loved one’s mental capacity.
What is mental capacity in the estate planning context?
To create legally valid estate planning documents, an individual must have the requisite mental capacity to do so. This means that they understand the nature and extent of their assets, to whom they’re leaving those assets, and how those assets are being left to those named in their estate plan. If an individual doesn’t understand one of those aspects, then it can’t be said that they intended to distribute their assets as specified in their estate plan.
How do you prove lack of mental capacity?
There are several approaches that you might be able to take in your case. This includes:
- Presenting evidence that your loved one was diagnosed with a severe mental health condition like Alzheimer’s, dementia, or psychosis, keeping in mind that this diagnosis, in and of itself, may not be enough to prove a lack of mental capacity.
- Having witnesses testify about their observations of your loved one’s behaviors, including issues with their memory and a lack of understanding of their surroundings, their assets, and their relationships.
- Subpoenaing records that help show that your loved one was struggling with understanding key concepts of their daily living.
- Pursuing expert testimony to help show that your loved one was incapable of knowing the ramifications of their estate plan.
Are you ready to challenge a will or other estate planning documents?
If so, then now is the time to start gathering the evidence you need and crafting the legal arguments best aimed at achieving the outcome you want. The process isn’t always as easy as it seems, though, which is why now is the time to get to work and find the answers to any questions you might have.