Did you know that practically any will could be contested? Although the burden of proof for challenging a will sits with the person who contest the will to begin with, it is still possible for someone to allege that a will is simply invalid. Thinking about competency is especially important for adult children who are concerned about an aging loved one who may be exhibiting signs of cognitive decline.
One of the most common reasons that wills are challenged has to do with mental competency. Mental competency can be defined as whether or not a person:
- Understands the value and extent of his or her property.
- Knows the individuals who would ordinarily be named as beneficiaries in the will.
- Understands that disposition as to the beneficiaries outlined in the will.
- Knows that he or she is making a will.
In the event that there is a contest based on a person’s competency to create a will, expert witnesses may be engaged who can share their observations about the deceased towards the end of his or her life. A physician, for example, can be important.
Meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney and sharing your concerns that someone will ultimately contest your will is one important step. You may even wish to get a statement from your doctor that you include along with your estate planning materials discussing your own competency.