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What does lack of testamentary capacity mean?

There are a number of grounds upon which a person might contest a loved one's will in Texas. Lack of testamentary capacity is one of the best grounds, if for no other reason than it gives you a way to defend your loved one even after death. However, it is crucial to develop a proper understanding of what the term means as well as what you can do about it.

Testamentary capacity and the lack of testamentary capacity are legal terms describing a testator's mental ability to create or make changes to a will. Unless the issue of testamentary capacity is raised, adults in the nation are presumed to possess the required capacity to create a valid will. In order to initiate probate litigation on the basis of lack of testamentary capacity, you must prove that the testator lacked the ability to understand the following elements:

-- Who the beneficiaries of the will are

-- The value and extent of the property addressed in the will

-- What it means to make a will and distribute assets

-- How elements of a will relate to one another

In most cases, lack of testamentary capacity means that the testator suffered from dementia, senility, insanity or other conditions affecting the soundness of his or her mind. It is up to the individual contesting a will on these grounds to prove a disorder of the mind existed and that your loved one did not understand the consequences of the will during its execution.

It can be difficult to prove a lack of testamentary capacity. If you believe this is a valid reason to contest your loved one's will, an estate planning attorney can offer you professional and knowledgeable assistance during probate litigation.

Source: FindLaw, "Reasons to Challenge a Will," accessed Aug. 29, 2016

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