If someone decides to dispute your will, one of the questions that may come up is whether you were in full control of your mental faculties when executing the document. This is because the law requires a testator to be of sound mind while signing the document. This is known as testamentary capacity.
If there are sufficient grounds to believe that your testamentary capacity to sign your will was questionable, then the court may invalidate your will. Consequently, your estate may end up being distributed per Washington’s intestate laws.
Understanding testamentary capacity
As far as estate planning laws are concerned, “testamentary capacity” refers to a testator’s mental ability to create a valid will. In other words, you must have a sound mind and a clear understanding of what you are signing. You must also understand the extent of your estate as well as the people you are designating as your heirs.
Here are some of the elements of testamentary capacity that you must satisfy when signing your will:
- You must understand the act of making a will as well as its legal implications
- You must understand the nature and extent of the property you can dispose of via the will
- You must be able to clearly communicate the rationale for distributing your property in a particular manner, especially if the will you are executing significantly departs from your previous wishes
- You generally must be free of any mental illness or disorder that might influence the distribution of your property
Simply put, you need to be of sound mind at the time of executing your will. Learning more about Washington’s wills laws can help you create a will that will stand the test of probate.