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Daytona Beach Lawyers > Blog > Estate Planning > Proving Mental Incapacity

Proving Mental Incapacity


People contest wills, trusts, and other parts of a person’s estate plan for several different reasons. Of all of them, arguing mental incapacity is one of the most common. Arguing that someone did not have the mental capacity required to create an estate plan is a legal issue and as such, you must be prepared to prove your case if you want to raise this argument. To prove a lack of mental capacity, you must carefully evaluate whether a person is capable of understanding, processing, retaining, and communicating specific information that is critical in decision-making. Below, our Daytona Beach estate planning lawyer explains more.

What is Mental Incapacity? 

A lack of mental capacity refers to a person’s inability to make decisions for themselves. There are several things that can cause a lack of mental capacity. These include dementia, learning disabilities, brain injuries, mental health illnesses, strokes, and intoxication. Mental incapacity can be permanent or temporary but when a person cannot make sound decisions while they are drafting their estate plan, it can result in challenges and contests in the future.

Proving Mental Incapacity 

Proving that a person lacks the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves is difficult. This is particularly true when the person has periods of lucidity. The courts in Florida will start a case with the presumption that a person has the mental capacity to make their own decisions and manage their own finances and other affairs. Due to that presumption, anyone who is arguing a lack of mental capacity must prove their case.

However, if it was determined that a person did not have mental capacity before drafting a will, trust, or any other part of an estate plan, the court will begin the case with the presumption that the individual was not mentally capable. When determining whether a person had the required mental capacity when drafting their estate plan, the court will consider many factors. These include:

  • A medical diagnosis that supports mental incapacity, such as dementia or psychosis, although this alone may not serve as proof if there is not additional evidence,
  • Witnesses who can testify about their own observations regarding the individual’s behavior and other indicators of their mental capacity at the time of preparing estate planning documents, and
  • Legal tools, including the Legal Capacity Questionnaire provided by the American Bar Association.

If the court decides that an individual does not have the legal capacity to make sound decisions for themselves, they may appoint a conservator or guardian who will then make decisions on the person’s behalf.

Our Estate Planning Lawyer in Daytona Beach Can Prove Your Case 

A lack of mental capacity can void certain elements of a person’s estate plan, but it is not easy to prove. At Bundza & Rodriguez, our Daytona Beach estate planning lawyer can review the facts of your situation, assist you with gathering important evidence, and build a strong case that will help you obtain the best outcome possible. Call us now at 386-252-5170 or chat with us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.



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