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When are wills invalidated for a lack of testamentary capacity?

When you draft a will, as part of the process, you'll be asked to write instructions for how you wish for your property to be divided up after you've died. It's then the role of the executor of your estate to distribute your assets in accordance with your wishes.

As your financial or personal situation changes over the course of your life, you'll want to revisit your will and re-draft portions of it so that your wishes expressed in it are most up-to-date.

If you decide to update your will, it's important for you to understand that any previously existing wills become invalid the moment that a new one is drafted. This often gives way to the validity of a will being contested.

One of the reasons an updated will is often contested is because those heirs written out of it stand to lose their inheritance if they're no longer listed as beneficiaries to it. Another common ground on which heirs often contest a will is that the testator, or person drafting it, lacked testamentary capacity to do so.

Aside from having been accused of being incompetent at the time, other excluded beneficiaries may assert that the testator was subjected to undue influence of others when drafting his or her will.

Beneficiaries that have raised questions of validity related to wills have often done so in situations in which their loved ones suffer from a number of medical conditions ranging from heart disease to dementia, cancer or infections and organ failure.

Oftentimes, those family members or other beneficiaries of the testator who file these claims do so out of frustration that they've been cut out of their loved one's will.

In many cases, the heirs of the testator may have been written out of the will in lieu of someone new on the scene who they feel had ulterior motives in becoming involved with their loved one. In other cases, a testator may have been subjected to abuse or some other type of cohersion to select someone as beneficiary that he or she otherwise would not have chosen.

Each of these instances may warrant an heir challenging a will on testamentary capacity grounds.

If you're concerned that your loved one was either coerced, of too poor of health or manipulated into signing a will not in alignment with his or her wishes, then a Melbourne trust litigation attorney can provide guidance in your case.

Source: Modern Medicine Network, "Evaluating capacity to make a will psychological autopsy and Assessment of Testamentary Capacity," Stephen Noffsinger, accessed May 02, 2018

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