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How can you demonstrate diminished capacity in a will contest?

On behalf of Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP | Sep 18, 2020 |

The judges working in probate court have to sift through countless challenges brought by family members and heirs to determine which ones have real grounds that justify challenging a will and which ones are the results of unhappy beneficiaries trying to use the legal system as a weapon in their own favor.

In order to successfully challenge a will, you need grounds to do so, and you will need some kind of evidence as well. If you know that your recently deceased loved one made changes to their last will or estate plan while in a state of cognitive decline, their medical issues may be grounds to challenge those changes.

Medical records and testimony can build your case

Some people have a very straightforward path toward proving diminished mental capacity because their loved one has a formal diagnosis. Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions that produce dementia and cognitive effects can definitely affect someone’s judgment and decision-making.

Diagnosis and testing records that show how your loved ones struggled can help you validate your claim that the changes occurred at a time where they did not have the mental capacity to make them. Records from medical facilities or assisted living housing can also validate their decline.

If there aren’t any recent documents attesting to your loved one’s mental health or state, you may need to have loved ones who routinely interacted with them and professionals who helped them testify or give a written statement attesting to your loved one’s capacity in their last months. Bringing the challenge against an estate often involves complex litigation, so prepare yourself for delays and to defend your assertion about diminished capacity in court.