Challenging a will on grounds of lack of testamentary capacity

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2023 | Will Contests

A will is one of the most important legal documents you can ever create. A will lets you stipulate your wishes regarding what will happen to your estate when you die. And if you have minor children, a will also lets you designate a legal guardian for them. 

However, you must have a testamentary capacity to create a valid will. Without this, your will can be contested and invalidated. Basically, this means that you must have the mental ability to understand what you are doing and how this will impact your estate and potential heirs. 

So how is a lack of testamentary capacity determined?

Your will can be contested and invalidated on grounds that you lacked the testamentary capacity at the time of signing the document. To satisfy this claim, however, the party contesting your will must prove the following:

  • You did not understand the act of creating a will and its effects
  • You did not understand the nature and extent of the assets you were disposing of through your will
  • You were suffering from a disorder that impacted your judgement and ability to make independent decisions

Protecting your will from contests

Will disputes cost time and money. Additionally, will disputes can leave a lasting rift amongst your loved ones. This explains why you should consider protecting your will from disputes

Here are two steps you can take to prevent interested parties from contesting your will on grounds of testamentary incapacity. 

Obtain a health report from a healthcare practitioner – If you suspect that someone is going to dispute your will on the basis that you lacked the testamentary capacity while signing the document, then you might approach a qualified medical practitioner to write a report to confirm that you were of sound mind at the time of creating your will.

Keep a comprehensive record of your wishes – concerns about your testamentary capacity will gain prominence if there are ambiguities in your will. You can avoid this by ensuring that your will is as detailed and comprehensive as possible. 

A will speaks for you when you are no longer around to speak for yourself. Find out how you can safeguard your will from costly disputes.


FindLaw Network