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What is testamentary capacity?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2023 | Estate Planning

Every adult should consider estate planning, regardless of age or wealth. An estate plan is not for older individuals or those with assets worth millions of dollars. However, for a plan’s documents to be valid, including the will, some requirements should be observed, and one of them is testamentary capacity.

Here is what you should know about this requirement:

Anyone above 18 can create a will

Michigan law considers anyone above 18 and of sound mind to have the testamentary capacity to create a will. To be mentally competent, a person must: 

  • Understand the nature of the act (writing a will): They should be aware that this action provides for the disposition of their property after death.
  • Understand the nature and extent of their property: They should be able to direct what they want to happen with their holdings.
  • Understand in a reasonable manner the nature and effect of signing the will.

It also helps if the testator understands and remembers their relationship with living descendants, parents, spouse and any party interested in the will. 

Anyone unable to meet these requirements may not be mentally competent to make a will. Further, people with mental health disorders whose symptoms include hallucinations and delusions may lack the testamentary capacity to write a will. 

How can a lack of testamentary capacity be proven? 

If an interested party believes you lacked testamentary capacity, which means the will does not reflect your true intentions, they may contest it. They will provide evidence to support their claims. Evidence may include your medical records and statements from witnesses. If the court finds you lacked sufficient mental capacity, they may not use your will to distribute assets.

You should be informed about the testamentary capacity to eliminate the chances of your will being contested in the future. Get legal help to ensure your will is valid.