A person making or amending a Will must have the mental capacity (and a sound mind) to do so. This is sometimes phrased in legal terms as ‘testamentary capacity’.

It is essential that an individual making a Will (known as a testator) is capable of understanding

  • that they are making a Will and the nature and affect of making the Will
  • the extent of their assets and possessions (in a broad sense)
  • the claims of those who might expect to benefit from their Will.

In addition to this, the person making the Will must have no mental disorder or delusion that would adversely affect their thinking and therefore influence the contents of the Will.

Testamentary capacity can be influenced by ill health such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It can also be affected by medication.

When disputing a Will and making this type of claim, evidence will be needed to prove that the person writing the Will was not of sound mind. This might include prescriptions for psychiatric medication, records of residing at a psychiatric hospital, changing power of attorney, or proof they had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

It is possible to obtain copies of a deceased person’s medical records and get expert opinion from a medical specialist. Another option is take written statements from those who met and interacted with the deceased on or around the time the Will was signed, for instance the witnesses to the Will or the lawyer involved preparing the Will.

If you believe the deceased suffered from mental incapacity or was not of sound mind, at the time of completing the Will, then you may have grounds for a claim. Contact us today to discuss your concerns further.

As Will dispute specialist lawyers (based in St Albans, Hertfordshire) we also can assist with claims where