A will is, without a doubt, the cornerstone of any estate plan. However, for your will to serve its intended purpose, it must be duly written in accordance with Pennsylvania law. And this means that the testator must at least be 18 years old at the time of signing the will document.
For a will to be valid, it must also be signed in the presence of two witnesses. Additionally, the testator must have the testamentary capacity to sign their will.
So what is testamentary capacity?
As far as estate law is concerned, “testamentary capacity” refers to the testator’s mental ability to make a valid will. The idea is, the testator must have a sound judgment to understand what they are appending their signature to. They must also understand their relationship with the people they are designating as heirs, the property they are including in the will and the legal implications of signing the will.
Challenging a will on grounds of lack of testamentary capacity
To challenge the validity of the will, you will be required to justify the grounds for your claim. In other words, you must start by proving that you are an interested party in the decedent’s estate. This means that you must be a beneficiary or would be eligible for inheritance in the absence of the will to have the legal standing to challenge the document.
To prove a lack of testamentary capacity, you will be required to provide specific documentation and testimony to the probate court. Some of the evidence you may provide to prove your case include:
- The testator’s medical records at the time of signing the will
- Testimony from the health care provider who treated the testator
- Testimony from the witnesses who signed the will
- Testimony from the testator’s family members and caregivers
- Testimony from the conservator or guardian
Just as it is with any contract, an individual cannot sign a will if they do not have the testamentary capacity to do so. Find out how you can challenge the validity of a will on grounds of lack of mental capacity.