Of Sound Mind and Legal Age

Voluntary capacity: The mental capacity a person must have to make a valid will. Sometimes called „age-old and sane.” Legal capacity – also known as „common sense” – has specific legal definitions in estate and estate planning disputes. The law recognizes that the degree of understanding required to sign a document varies with the complexity of that document. Since a power of attorney is one of the most important legal documents you can have, it`s important to know whether you want a standing or regular power of attorney. While most wills are upheld in court, there are four main legal reasons why a will can be annulled. „Age, weakness, forgetfulness, bad personal habits, personal eccentricities, non-recognition of friends or relatives, physical disability, distraction and mental confusion of age, weakness, forgetfulness, bad personal habits, personal eccentricities, non-recognition of former friends or relatives, physical inability, distraction and mental confusion do not justify the hypothesis that a testator is not able to do a will. was. Estate of Selb (1948) 84 Cal. App. 2d 46, 49-52. A will, along with other important estate planning documents, document a person`s decisions about the disposition of their assets after their death. Once you`re 18, you can write and edit your estate plan at any point in your life, as long as you have „common sense” when the documents are signed. Unfortunately, a clear and simple test is impossible because mental performance exists in a multidimensional spectrum, whereas legal analysis requires a „yes” or „no” answer.

Following the common law tradition, Wisconsin cases instituted a three-part test to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether someone was of sound mind at the time of signing a document: As we mentioned earlier, you must be considered sane to make a will. Texas has a five-part test to determine if someone is healthy. A party challenging the will must provide the court with evidence that the person did not have mental health at the time the will was signed. The court may call witnesses who have seen the person who signed the will to determine mental capacity. If the court finds that the person did not have a sound mind, the will fails. In one case, the court found that the testator was capable, although „eccentric”, forgetful and childish; He slept on a cot without a mattress and wore clothes so dirty and worn they fell apart; And he had a „mind that seemed to drift into other subjects.” Estate of Agnew (1944) 65 Cal. App. 2d 553.

Despite this eccentric behaviour, the Court of Appeal overturned the judgment of the Court of First Instance, holding that the challenger could not prove a lack of probative value. Like most states, Wisconsin`s mental capacity laws, which are necessary to create and amend estate planning documents, are grounded in English common law. The exact wording is found in Section 853.01 of the Wisconsin Act, which states that „any person of sound mind 18 years of age or older may make and revoke a will.” While the age requirement is simple, the exact requirements for a „common mind” are less obvious. Even if a testator has „common sense” under the three-part test, a will or part of a will can be challenged if a person exerts „undue influence” over the testator in order to obtain an advantage. Undue influence is beyond the scope of this article, but generally refers to a situation where someone has inappropriately exerted influence to cause someone to change their estate planning for their personal benefit. One of the requirements of an undue influence claim is that the testator was „likely” to undue influence, which usually means some degree of cognitive impairment, but not at the level of the absence of a sound mind for estate planning purposes. Texas doesn`t have strict requirements for who can execute a will. Almost anyone over the age of 18 and some people under the age of 18 can sign a will. Texas has a two-part test for who can make a will.

This two-part test is found in Section 251.001 of the Texas Estates Code. The ability to write a will is called testamentary force. First, you need to be „sane.” And secondly, you must be over 18, married, or in the armed forces.