The role of testamentary capacity in estate disputes

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2022 | Will Disputes |

There may be a multitude of scenarios in which a person might choose to question the validity of estate documents, including a will. While issues such as undue influence continue to prove common causes of estate disputes, these issues may also arise should a person in Pennsylvania have concerns about the testator’s testamentary capacity. This is an integral component of creating a will, and concerns over one’s competence could be grounds on which to contest the validity of the document.

Competence in will disputes

Testamentary capacity is a term used to describe one’s ability to understand the basic functions of a will and to make decisions during the creation of such a document. Some factors a person must have the capacity to understand may include the significance of decisions regarding the property one owns and how assets will be distributed to beneficiaries upon death. A person must also have the capacity to make informed decisions regarding who will inherit these assets.

Studies suggest that there are various factors that might influence one’s ability to make competent decisions while creating a will. Certain medical conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease might disrupt one’s testamentary capacity, and those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol could also lack the competence to understand what is at stake or make informed decisions. Those who feel that the testator lacked the necessary testamentary capacity may retain the right to dispute the will and preparing to face similar issues can be a stressful task.

Estate disputes

Estate disputes that arise due to questions about testamentary capacity can be highly complex and hotly contested matters. Individuals in Pennsylvania who face similar types of conflict and have questions about their options and the next steps to take could consider retaining the services of an attorney in the initial stages of the process. An attorney can evaluate the situation a client is facing, provide insight on what to expect from the process, and assist in creating a strategy with which to safeguard his or her interests through the appropriate outlets.