Estate Litigation Attorney | Richmond, Virginia
Disputing an estate can be very challenging in any situation. A key area of concern for many is in whether or not a person had the ability to create a legally binding will. If you believe that a person did not create a will under the proper circumstances, it is possible to file an estate dispute regarding this in Virginia. However, from the start it should be understood that the process of overturning a will is quite challenging.
What Is Testamentary Capacity?
Testamentary capacity is a legal term used to refer to a person’s ability to craft a will that is valid under the state of Virginia’s laws. Nearly all states have specific requirements that must be followed in order for a will to be considered valid. In most cases, there are two specific requirements:
- The individual must be of legal age to do so, which is most often 18 years old.
- The individual must also have the mental capacity to create a will and understand the ramifications of it.
While the first component is rather straightforward, the second element can be challenged and is hard to define as well. In order to have the legally defined capacity to do this, an individual must be able to understand a few key aspects:
- He or she must be able to understand the nature and extent of his or her property.
- The individual must understand the natural objects of the property.
- He or she must understand that he or she is creating a will.
- And, each of these elements must be connected so that a coherent plan can be created.
How Can Testamentary Capacity in Virginia Be Disputed?
To dispute testamentary capacity, an individual must prove that one of these key areas was lacking at the time in which the individual created the will. You must show with a strong level of evidence that the person did not, in some way, understand the nature of the process of what he or she was doing when crafting the document.
This may be done by showing that the person did not remember specific property, did not recall owning specific property, did not understand its value, or did not understand the method in which the property will be distributed.
A key mistake often made in these disputes is believing that a person’s quality of mental acuity had changed. It does not matter, in many cases, that the same “quality” of capacity was not the same as it previously was. It is also not necessarily enough to show that the person’s mind quality had deteriorated. And, it is not necessarily enough to say that the individual was unable to make business decisions.
Under Virginia law, testamentary capacity can be challenged, but the proponent must maintain the burden of proof. If you believe, for any reason, that an individual did not create a will or did not do so with all of the elements listed above intact it is possible, and ideal, for you to turn to an attorney to file a dispute against the estate. Working with an experienced attorney is essential to this process.
Ryan C. Young | Estate Disputes & Litigation | Richmond, Virginia Attorney