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Understanding the Significance of Lack of Testamentary Capacity in Contested Wills

 Posted on August 01, 2023 in Estate Planning Blog

Lombard Estate Planning LawyerWills serve as legal documents that outline how an individual’s assets will be distributed upon their death. However, when a will is contested, one common argument made by challengers is that the testator lacked testamentary capacity at the time of creating the document. Today, we will examine the implications of a lack of testamentary capacity in contested wills and its impact on the validity of the document. If you have concerns over the validity of a will, contact an estate planning lawyer for legal representation as you work through your legal matter.

Definition of Testamentary Capacity

Testamentary capacity refers to the mental capability of an individual to understand the nature and consequences of making a will. It is a legal requirement that ensures the integrity of the testator’s wishes and protects against undue influence or coercion. Testamentary capacity involves a few key elements:

  • Understanding the nature of a will – The testator must comprehend the purpose of a will, which is to distribute assets upon their death according to their wishes. 

  • Awareness of their assets – The testator must have knowledge of the assets they possess and what may be included in the will. 

  • Understanding the implications – The testator should comprehend the impact of their decisions on the will, including who the beneficiaries are. 

  • Freedom from external pressure – The testator must not be unduly influenced or coerced by others when making decisions in their will.

Significance of Lack of Testamentary Capacity in Contested Wills

It may be deemed invalid if a will is determined to have been created without testamentary capacity. The rationale behind this is to protect vulnerable individuals from being taken advantage of during the estate planning process. Challengers must provide evidence to substantiate their claim when contesting a will based on a lack of testamentary capacity. This may include medical records, witness testimonies, or professional opinions regarding the testator’s mental state at the time the will was executed. 

Legal Considerations

Challenging a will based on a lack of testamentary capacity can be a legally complex process. The burden of proof generally rests on the challenging party, who must establish that the testator’s mental abilities were impaired to the point they did not meet the requirements for testamentary capacity. Such challenges often involve court proceedings, where medical professionals and witnesses may be called upon to provide evidence. 

Contact a Lombard, IL Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning can feel like an overwhelming process, especially if you fail to hire legal counsel. Contact the experienced DuPage County estate planning attorneys with A. Traub & Associates for the best representation. Call 630-426-0196 for a private consultation. 



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