This is the second post in my series on the process of invalidating a California will due to a lack of capacity on the part of the deceased. My last article provided an overview of topics I will be discussing and stressed the need to contact an attorney to assist you with the process. It is important to understand that disputing a last will and testament is a complicated process and doing so without counsel can be difficult. In this post I will discuss another important topic – situations in which a San Bernardino Court will consider it appropriate to invalidate a will due to incapacity. If a loved one has passed away then it is crucial to seek counsel.
California heirs must show an objective mental defect to invalidate a will due to the testator’s capacity
California is like other states in that a person must be of sound mind when they execute a last will and testament. If the testator (the person making the will) is not of sound mind then the will can be found invalid during probate. It is important to understand that being of “sound mind” is not simply a matter of personal opinion. It is common for people to think that a deceased lacked capacity simply because they “were not thinking straight” or because they behaved in a way which others may not. We live in a society where people are allowed to make choices about how they live and how their estate will be disposed of upon death. The fact that someone behaved in a way which you feel was odd, or in a way other than how you would have behaved, does not mean that there was a legal lack of capacity at the time the will was executed.
A deceased may be found to have lacked capacity if it can be shown that a verifiable mental disorder existed at the time the will was executed. Common examples include the testator being intoxicated, under the influence of mind-altering substances, or in and out of consciousness when they made their will. Other instances where a Court may take action may include times where the heirs can show, through objective medical evidence, that the deceased was suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other mentally degenerative diseases and such diseases prevented them from having sufficient capacity. If objective evidence can show that the deceased suffered from a mental disorder with symptoms including delusions or hallucinations, which result in the individual’s devising property in a way which, except for the delusions or hallucinations, the person would not have done (such as suffering from schizophrenia or some other mental disorder) and that the deficit affected the deceased’s decisions or acts, then the Court may be willing to take action. Heirs must understand that it takes objective proof to show that a will should be invalidated on the grounds of capacity.
Heirs should contact a San Bernardino attorney immediately if they wish to challenge a will due to capacity
If a loved one has died then it is important to seek immediate representation to protect your interests. If you wish to dispute a will due to capacity, or any other issue, then it is important to understand that you only have a limited amount of time in which to do so. Failing to meet these time frames can mean that you will lose the ability to bring a challenge. As a San Bernardino probate attorney, I will use your initial consultation to help you understand whether you have a legitimate basis to challenge a will and to identify what your next steps should be. Those steps will then be put in motion so that your interests remain protected. Contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
We also service Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, Victorville, Rialto, Hesperia, Chino, Upland, Apple Valley, Redlands, Highland, Colton, Yucaipa, Montclair, elsewhere in the Inland Empire, as well as Los Angeles.