When might an Ohio judge decide that a testator lacked testamentary capacity?

On Behalf of | Nov 25, 2020 | Will Contests

Most adults understand the importance of drafting a will. It allows them to have a say in deciding what will happen with their property once they pass away. What many people may not realize is that not just anyone can draft this legal document. There are certain conditions that an individual must meet to be eligible to draft a will and for it to be legally enforceable. Testators must be competent to prepare such a document.

What is testamentary capacity?

No one condition definitively renders someone incapable of drafting a will as each person’s experience is unique. Cardiovascular conditions, including heart failure or a stroke, can significantly affect a person’s cognitive or neurological function, thus rendering them susceptible to undue influence or coercion from others, though. Infections, metabolic disorders, organ failure, cancer and drug side effects can all do the same.

How lawyers (and judges) assess a testator’s testamentary capacity

An Ohio lawyer assisting their client in drafting their will should take time to speak with them to gauge their competence to draft a will and their voluntariness to do so. They should not support a client in preparing their will if they fear that the testator lacks testamentary capacity or if someone is forcing them to draft the legally binding document.

The attorney should also confirm that the testator understands the purpose of a will, the breadth of the property they own and what Ohio law says about property inheritance, a process known as intestate succession. A lawyer can assist their client in drafting a will once they see that they voluntarily want to do so, understands the purpose of this document, property that they own and state laws surrounding their disposition.

An Ohio judge will want to know that a lawyer walked a testator through these steps should an heir or other interested parties contest their will.

What to do if you suspect a lack of testamentary capacity

Many legal analysts liken the concept of testamentary capacity to consenting to treatment or executing a contract. Others argue that it falls far below that.

You may have a valid claim for contesting your loved one’s Ohio will if you can prove that they were subject to undue influence or lacked testamentary capacity that they drafted it. An attorney can help you determine whether you have enough information at your disposal to prove your Toledo case.


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