Claims against mental capacity can threaten a will's validity

A solid estate plan is one that is thorough and updated over time. Yet, with each legal document executed and modification made comes scrutiny. This can be especially true when changes to an estate plan are substantially different from what the plan previously constituted.

Therefore, when an individual is written out of a will, or when the distribution of a loved one's assets becomes suspiciously lopsided, other expectant heirs and beneficiaries may start to raise questions as to the legal validity of those changes.

One way this occurs is through consideration of the deceased individual's mental capacity at the time of a legal document's execution or modification. As individuals age, their health can decline, in some cases significantly so. Whether one's mental capacity is drawn into question by the onset of dementia or a stroke, the facts surrounding the condition and the actions taken after the origination of the condition can be pivotal when dealing with contested wills.

Therefore, those who engage in estate planning need to take proper precautions to make sure they are presenting themselves and the circumstances surrounding the execution of estate planning documents in a way that diminishes or even eliminates the potential for claims of mental incapacity. This might require thoroughly discussing the estate plan with family members and friends, as well as an attorney. One's intentions in making significant changes also need to have a documented motivation.

An attorney who is experienced in estate planning can help individuals create wills that not only meet their desires with regard to asset distribution upon death, but also diminish the likelihood that it will be contested sometime down the road. This holds true throughout the estate planning process, which incorporates not only the initial creation of legal documents, but their modification as well. Skilled legal professionals stand ready to help with this process.

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