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Did my loved one have the testamentary capacity to make a will?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2022 | Probate & Estate Litigation |

In Georgia, it is unfortunately common for people to engage in disputes over a loved one’s will. When people claim a will should not be deemed valid, one way they might do so hinges on the capacity of the person who signed the document, also referred to as the testator.

When people claim incapacity in trying to invalidate the document, it is important to understand the basics of the law for testamentary capacity. Since these cases can be complex, it is important for those involved to have professional guidance to navigate the issues and procedures.

Testamentary capacity

If the testator created their will so when they were legally disabled due to a lack of capacity or not having the liberty to create the will, then it could be deemed invalid.

Courts want to know that the testator made a rational decision as to how their property would be handled according to their estate plan. This is known as testamentary capacity.

This concept is fairly subtle. Even a person who has some level of incapacity, may still be of sufficient capacity to make a will. Even people who have been declared insane may have periods of lucidity in which they have the capacity to make a will. People who are getting older may have a diminished intellect or behave in an eccentric way, but that does not mean they are incapable of making a will.

The will must be completed under the testator’s free volition. If they are influenced by others playing on their fears, affections, sympathies, causing them duress or behaving in other ways to unduly influence them, the will may not be valid.

Challenging or defending a will

When challenging a will or defending its validity as part of probate and estate litigation, it is important to be on strong legal ground. Testamentary capacity is a frequent target to have a will invalidated. In some instances, the testator did not meet the legal requirements to create a will. In others, they did. From every perspective, it is imperative to have professional assistance with these cases.