Challenges to a person’s mental capacity are common in a will, especially in contentious families. Many people don’t have an adequate will at the time of their physical decline. For people with dementia, writing a will with the help of family members can raise issues related to lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence.
Family contention leading to a contested will
In a family with disputing relatives, there is a higher likelihood of a contested will. A loved one with dementia will have to prove mental competency by having ‘testamentary capacity.’ Here are the criteria that need to be met for a person with dementia to form and sign a valid will:
- That person understands what constitutes their property.
- That person can distinguish who their relatives and descendants are.
- That person can decide who of those relatives and descendants should inherit property.
- That person knows what a will is and how it generally works with regards to distributing property after death.
- The person can combine all of these facets to understand the overall process of forming an estate plan.
Exceptions to the probate process in Ohio
There are a few examples that bypass the probate process and are less susceptible to probate litigation, as is the case when a person leaves an estate to a living spouse in its entirety (for estates less than $100,000) or if the deceased person’s assets are less than $35,000.
Honoring your loved one’s wishes
If any of these criteria are questionable, then this opens up a will to be contested. If you believe that a relative’s will was unduly influenced or compromised by mental capacity, you need a skilled probate litigation attorney to make sure your relative’s intentions are honored.