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Is the will valid if your loved one has dementia?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Estate Planning |

One essential detail of creating a will – or any estate planning document – is testamentary capacity. Put simply, this means that the person who creates the will must have a sound mind. This aspect can come into question if a loved one faces a dementia diagnosis. Your loved one and your family may face an additional level of stress when it comes to estate matters. What are the options?

4 steps to take to determine validity

So, how can you and your family determine if their will is valid? There are a few steps you can take, including:

  • Understand the timeline: Timing will be the key. When was your loved one diagnosed with dementia? When did they create the will? Was the will created by an attorney? Having proof of these dates will be helpful to determine if your loved one was still of sound mind when they created the will. However, even if a loved one was in the early stages of dementia, they may still have had the testamentary capacity to create a valid will.
  • Get confirmation: You may be able to obtain medical records or speak with the doctor who treated your loved one to obtain a professional opinion of your loved one’s state of mind at the time they created the will. It may also help to speak with the witnesses who were present when the will was signed. After all, their role is to confirm that the will is indeed valid. This includes accounting for the testator’s capacity.
  • Provide your own account: In addition to any professional opinions, the family’s eyewitness accounts can also help provide an accurate picture of the loved one’s state of mind. A doctor may be able to give a professional account, but the family’s account of everyday details offers a holistic view.
  • Obtain professional guidance: If there are any doubts or questions, it is helpful to speak with a legal professional. They know the requirements of a valid will and can provide guidance if families have concerns about their loved one’s mental state at the time the will was signed.

These steps can help to understand if a loved one’s dementia affected the validity of the will in California. It is easier – emotionally and procedurally – to take steps before a loved one passes.

Seeing a loved one decline and dealing with their passing is unimaginably difficult. Navigating these legal questions and the administration of their estate on top of this emotional stress can be even more so. However, it is important to consider the logistical aspects to make sure you and your family respect your loved one’s wishes.