Not all people who have estate plans were in the best frame of mind when creating the various documents that go into those plans. In Louisiana for estate planning documents to be legally binding, the person must be of sound mind. In other words, they must have the mental capacity to understand what it is that is being written and what they are signing. People can have off days, it’s true, and the matter of capacity is more important for certain documents like wills.
Other areas the law specifies that mental acuity is most relevant and necessary is in the writing of contracts, when appointing guardians and consenting to certain medical treatments such as in health care directives. Being declared legally competent when writing legal documents is actually one that is governed by law and not by the medical profession. So, should the issue raise its head, a judge would be the one who decides.
Testamentary capacity — or the testator’s ability to make cognizant decisions — is actually the lowest level according to the law. The requirements aren’t complex. A person must understand the nature of what is being written, must know who should normally be included as beneficiaries and must understand that he or she is actually fashioning a will.
There are other things that can affect estate planning and the making of a will such as being influenced by another person unduly, fraud and not having the document witnessed properly. A Louisiana attorney is able to explain the dynamics of mental capacity and other issues that may impact an estate plan. When these issues make sense, estate planning may go much more smoothly.