Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

Can someone with dementia create a valid estate plan?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | probate administration

By the time a will reaches probate court, the deceased’s loved one may have already been surprised. This is especially true when those who were expected to inherit assets end up receiving less than they thought they would, or they’re entirely cut out the inheritance scheme. When this happens, a will contest may be on the horizon, especially if the deceased suffered from a mental health condition like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The answer to that question depends on the facts at hand. However, as a general matter, someone suffering from one of these conditions can still create valid estate planning vehicles so long as they possessed the requisite testamentary capacity at the time of the document’s execution.

Testamentary capacity exists when the individual signing off on the estate planning document understands the nature and extent of their assets, to whom and how they’re leaving their assets, and how these two things coalesce into an estate plan. Therefore, even if someone suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, they can create an enforceable estate plan if they executed their documentation during a period of lucidity.

How testamentary capacity is addressed in probate court

When testamentary capacity is raised as an issue in probate court, evidence will need to be presented as to the testator’s mental capacity leading up to the estate documentation’s execution. A medical expert may be necessary, and testimony from those who observed the testator at or near the time of execution can be insightful.

These matters can be charged with conflict, which is why you need adequate preparation before heading into this kind of probate administration dispute. Gain a command of the facts, educate yourself on the law, and be prepared to aggressively advocate your position. Hopefully then you can achieve an outcome that is fair and just.