People create wills for one main reason: to make clear their wishes regarding whom they’d want to inherit their assets when they die. Without a will, the government could step in and distribute your estate according to Texas intestacy laws.
Following the testator’s passing, however, it is not uncommon for their will to fail to meet the expectations of the beneficiaries, or some interested parties. One of the most common grounds upon which someone might contest your will is a lack of mental capacity (or the testamentary capacity) to create and sign a will. But what exactly is this and how is it established?
Understanding testamentary capacity
For your will to be valid, you must meet certain conditions at the time of creating or updating it. Among these is your testamentary capacity to sign the will. Basically, testamentary capacity refers to your mental and, thus, legal ability to make or alter your will.
Here are four questions that will establish your testamentary capacity to sign a will:
- Do you understand the personal and legal implications of making a will?
- Do you understand the nature and scope of your estate?
- Do you understand who you are leaving your assets to and why you are doing so?
- Do you have any disorders (such as an illness, a brain injury or other cognitive impairment) that can affect your decision-making ability with respect to disposing of your assets?
If your answer is “yes” to these questions and you have no medical issues like dementia, then you may be deemed mentally fit to create or update your will.
A will speaks for you when you are no longer around to articulate your wishes. One of the steps you may take to protect your will from disputes on grounds of lack of testamentary capacity is seeking a medical capacity assessment that explicitly states that you are capable of creating a will.