Dementia is a medical complication that plagues millions of people across the United States. Many of the individuals affected by dementia are senior citizens. However, many of these older individuals have not set up a proper estate plan prior to symptoms occurring. This could mean that there is no direction for the court if a person was to pass away, leaving their estate in the hands of strangers to decide on distribution.
Most individuals with dementia will not be considered mentally competent, which means any will or legal document they sign during this time could be viewed as invalid. That can make it very challenging for family members and loved ones who are trying to make sure all of their affairs are in order and have the best intentions. However, there are laws that are set up to protect elderly individuals with dementia and other medical complications from being taken advantage of. That can make it very challenging for family members and loved ones who are trying to make sure all of their affairs are in order and have the best intentions. However, there are laws that are set up to protect elderly individuals with dementia and other medical complications from being taken advantage of.
Could my loved one still sign certain legal documents?
In some circumstances, an individual suffering early signs of dementia may still be able to sign a will or other documents. In order for them to be considered mentally competent, certain criteria must be met. Essentially, it must be proven that the individual understands the implications of the legal documents they are signing. This is also called testamentary capacity, and is necessary if loved ones wish for the documents to be recognized by the court.
A person may still be considered mentally competent enough if they:
- Can express that they understand the extent of their property, such as what belongs to them and how much it is worth.
- Remember and can identify who their relatives and designated heirs are
- Demonstrate that they understands the purpose of a will and how it will distribute their property
Even if a loved one with a mental illness initially had a legal document or will approved, that does not mean it will be considered valid indefinitely. Family members or relatives may choose to contest a will, especially if they believe the individual lacked the mental capacity to understand what they were signing. This could lead to further complications and issues during the probate process.
This is why you need a lawyer to step in and clearly demonstrate that the entire process was valid. Want to learn more about protecting your estate? Contact our firm to get started.