What is Testamentary Capacity?
From simple errors to being unduly influenced, there are several issues that can invalidate a will. If a will is discovered to be invalid following a death, it can have severe implications for its beneficiaries, sometimes costing thousands in fees to reach a resolution.
A legal term, testamentary capacity describes an individual’s mental and legal ability to alter or make a valid will. If the individual making a will, (known as the testator) is found to lack testamentary capacity when the will was executed, the will is rendered invalid.
In both Wales and England, individuals are able to make a will providing they are 18 years of age or older and have testamentary capacity.
To assess whether a testator has this capacity at the time a will is made, they must be able to comprehend that the term “estate” refers to all they own, and understand that following their death, the beneficiaries they name will be entitled to their assets. They must also understand all implications of including or excluding individuals as beneficiaries. Finally, it’s essential that the testator makes the will under their own authority and they are not being coerced or influenced by others to make decisions.
If there is any doubt that the person who made the will was unable to understand any of these points when they made the will, it can be deemed invalid.
In order to avoid the risks of invalidating a will, it’s always wise advice to obtain professional assistance when it’s written and sidestep unnecessary issues.