A lack of capacity can invalidate a will or contract

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2018 | Probate Litigation

You loved your parents very much, and when they passed away, you knew you’d be left with many of the assets they owned. What happened next was nothing you could have ever expected. Instead of receiving information about assets that would be distributed to you, you found that many of the assets were being given to the family’s newest friend.

That friend was not someone you were comfortable with, and he got a little too close to your parents for comfort. You felt like there was something off with him, and now you think that he manipulated your parents into changing the will and estate plan. Due to undue influence and the fact that your parents struggled with dementia and the inability to make sound decisions, you want to challenge the changes to the estate. Can you?

Capacity is key in a contract

A will is a contract, and a person has to be in his or her right mind to sign any contract and have it hold up in court. The capacity to contract refers to a person’s ability to understand and form a contract. A person who has a mental impairment or who is too old to fully comprehend a contract cannot legally enter into one. If he or she lacks capacity to contract upon signing the document, then you’d have every right to fight those changes in court.

In your case, you feel there is also undue influence. Coercing someone to alter a will or threatening a person to do so is against the law and can invalidate a will.

What can you do to fight against changes in a will?

You’ll want to build a strong case. If you have a copy of a previous will, it would be good to show when it was made and updated. Also include information on when the new will was made and updated and if your mother or father was in the medical state to sign it and be bound by that contract.

To prove that your loved one was not able to sign the contract, you may wish to talk to a medical provider who can confirm a diagnosis for dementia or other mental health disorders. If you can show to the court that your loved one should not have been able to sign a contract due to a lack of capacity, then you may be able to have the new will invalidated.


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