Quality. Service. Results.

Wills: the competency determination

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2018 | wills

On their face, wills are relatively simple. However, their simplicity should not cloud the fact that they can have a significant impact on how an estate is distributed. This means that any minor mistake in this legal document can have tremendous consequences, including diverting assets to those whom a testator does not want to obtain them.

Because of the magnitude of wills, they are sometimes contested. This usually occurs when an individual feels slighted when he or she is left out of a will. One way these individuals try to invalidate a will is by claiming that the individual who created the will was incompetent when the document was created. However, determining whether an individual was competent at the time a will was signed can be difficult, especially since this issue usually arises after the testator passes away and, therefore, is unable to be subjected to evaluation.

So how is competency determined? Typically, a review of pertinent psychiatric, medical, pharmacy and other records will occur. Also, those who knew the testator best, such as family members and friends, will be interviewed to gain a better sense of the testator’s behaviors and demeanor around the time the will was created. This process is usually carried out by a forensic psychiatrist whose purpose is to determine whether the testator had the ability to understand that he or she was creating a will, the full extent of the will and its terms, to whom assets were being left and how that property was to be distributed upon his or her death.

One way to avoid these types of challenges is to ensure that a will is properly executed and witnessed. Skilled legal professionals who are experienced in this area of the law know how to create a will that is legally valid and in compliance with an individual’s wishes for his or her estate. To acquire this type of assistance, one should consider reaching out to a legal ally who they feel will adequately represent his or her best interests.