A will is a useful testamentary tool that can help convey a California resident’s intentions for the disposition of their end-of-life estate to both their loved ones and the legal system. A will can provide instructions for the care of the decedent’s minor children, and it can also outline how bequests of property should be made to those named in the document. An estate planning attorney can walk their client through the state-specific steps needed to execute a valid will in California.
One requirement that California imposes on wills is that those who execute them have testamentary capacity. This is a complex term that may not be familiar to all readers, and it is the goal of this post to provide some explanation for it. No part of this post provides legal advice, and all matters and questions related to estate planning should be directed to attorneys who help individuals create and execute their end-of-life wills.
What is testamentary capacity?
Testamentary capacity has to do with a person’s mental state when they are making their will. If a person cannot think for themselves, or suffers from diminished capacity due to age or disease, they may not have sufficient testamentary capacity to agree to the terms of a will. Testamentary capacity is a will requirement to prevent others from taking advantage of those without testamentary capacity who may be manipulated into leaving their estates to unscrupulous parties.
Testamentary capacity is also referred to soundness of mind. There are legal standards that California law recognizes to establish it. An attorney can help a person work through their testamentary capacity questions.
Making a will before testamentary capacity becomes an issue
Challenges to testamentary capacity can happen at any age. However, younger individuals may be able to clear the hurdle of demonstrating their soundness of mind easier than their older counterparts if their health is good. It can be wise for men and women to create their wills before testamentary capacity becomes an issue so that their testamentary wishes are clearly and legally outlined in their last wills and testaments.