Determining Your Testamentary Capacity to Sign a Will
For a last will and testament to be valid, you must have had the mental competence necessary to reasonably understand the contents of the document and the effects of creating it. This competence is referred to in legal terms as your “testamentary capacity.”
There are several elements to testamentary capacity, including:
- You can clearly understand that you are creating a document that provides guidelines for how your property will be distributed after death. You should be able to clearly answer who you want to benefit from this arrangement.
- You can understand the extent and nature of the property you own. You should be able to make a detailed inventory of your property, with special attention paid to items that have significant monetary or sentimental value that should be included in your will.
- You can understand who your family and loved ones are who should be included in the will.
- You can reasonably understand the effect of your signature on the document.
The issue of testamentary capacity can arise in cases in which the testator is in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. People with these conditions often have some good days and some bad days. Therefore, to avoid any issues with potential challenges to your will, it can be a good idea to have a physician certify your lucidity and serve as a witness to your will signing. Attorneys of individuals who suffer from the early stages of these conditions also tend to offer multiple time slots for will signings to allow the client to come in on a “good” day.
For more information on testamentary capacity and other issues you should know about when creating a will, work with an experienced Florida estate planning lawyer at The Charles Law Offices.