Avoiding will disputes due to mental illness


In all states it's important for will makers to have 'testamentary capacity', which is to say that they have sound mental capacity to make decisions. If you are suffering from a mental illness and would like to make a will that cannot be disputed due claims of you not being of sound mental capacity at the time it was drawn up, consider these tips and steps.

Obtain medical clearance

Before you have a will drawn up, particularly if you have a regular GP or psychologist who is familiar with the passage of your illness, it is useful to get an assessment of your mental capacity from them. They can offer a written notation on your current and mental health history which can be used to support the validity of your will. If you suspect that you will need further support or evidence it can be useful to get a second opinion as well, especially if you do not have a long term or regular medical support. This can be particularly useful if your condition has periods of lucidity interchanged with more impaired states where a casual observer day to day may not have known your capacity at a given point in time.

Obtain legal advice

Having your will professionally drawn up can ensure that you consider all valid points and clauses in the will and use appropriate language and terminology. This independent advice, as well as the professional assistance in drawing up the will, can make the will harder to dispute. The legal practitioner can also act as another witness to your mental state and witness your signature, further enforcing the will by ensuring that you fully understand the nature of your estate and the effects and implications of the will document you are currently lodging.

Eliminate chances for coercion

One of the concerns over wills being made by people with mental illness is that they may be more vulnerable to coercion due to their illness. You can eliminate this possibility by working with a legal support to identify members of your family tree and discussing why or why not they are being considered and discussing why any other friends or family are being included. It can be useful to ensure you attend appointments alone, even if you need support to get to the appointments, to avoid implications you are being influenced by the person bringing you.

Gaining some professional help when drawing up your will can be a great way to ensure that your will will not be one of many disputed wills.


19 October 2015

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