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Mental capacity in the creation of a will

Hubbard Snitchler & Parzianello

Practically any adult can benefit from having an estate plan in place. That is because Michigan residents cannot predict what will happen in the future. Though many will live long and healthy lives, others may face challenges that take their lives down unexpected paths.

One of the most foundational documents that a person may find in an estate plan is a will. Almost all adults in Michigan can create their own wills, but there are conditions on the process. One of those conditions involve the mental capacity of the individual who wishes to execute their own testamentary will.

What is mental capacity?

The mental capacity requirement is not exclusive to Michigan. Many states require individuals to have a certain level of competence and understanding about their wills before they can be legally executed. In Michigan, mental capacity can be demonstrated by proving several requirements. Those include:

  • A showing that the individual understands the extent of their property and bounty
  • A showing that the individual understands that they know their will will dispose of their property after their death
  • A showing that the individual understands that their signature validates the conditions of their will

If a person does not meet these conditions, they may not be able to create a legal will in Michigan.

Why mental capacity matters

Mental capacity matters during the creation and execution of wills. That is because without sufficient understanding and capacity, an individual may be taken advantage of during the drafting of their will. Ensuring that a person has the requisite level of understanding about the terms of their will can protect them from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous parties. When questions of capacity arise, concerned parties can seek legal advice about their specific cases.

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