Estate planning is an important way for an individual to protect their wealth after they are gone and to ensure that their assets pass to the individuals and organizations of their intentions. There are many different legal devices that can be used to create an estate plan, and individuals who wish to prepare or update their own plans should talk to their estate planning attorneys. This post will address an important topic related to the creation of wills, but no part of it should be read as legal advice.
In order to execute a valid will a South Carolina resident must ensure that their will meets certain legal requirements. For example, only adults in the state may create wills, and wills must be signed by a requisite number of witnesses. Another requirement that must be fulfilled before a will may be considered valid is the establishment of soundness of mind on the part of the testator.
What is Testamentary Capacity?
Testamentary capacity, or having a sound mind, is a complex legal concept. At its core it concerns whether a person knows what they are doing when they draft and sign their will. Many people proactively seek out help to create their wills and are knowledgeable and intentional in their estate planning actions. In some cases, individuals may lack the ability to understand the process, what they are giving up, who they may be potentially enriching, and other important will planning considerations. The law effectively protects individuals who cannot make these assessments from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous parties.
Why is Testamentary Capacity Important?
When a person lacks testamentary capacity, they may not be able to make important decisions about their own financial and personal needs. They may be susceptible to coercion, pressure, duress, or other wrongful forms of manipulation. They may sign testamentary documents that damage their financial power, profess terms that are contrary to their wishes, and ultimately accomplish the goals of others who may have bad objectives.
What Can Be Done if a Lack of Testamentary Capacity is Suspected in a Will?
If a person lacks testamentary capacity when they execute their will then it may be possible to have their will deemed invalid as it does not meet the requirements established by the state. Challenging a will based on testamentary capacity or other grounds does not guarantee that an invalid determination will be found. Before challenging a will, individuals may wish to talk with an estate planning attorney about their claims and what may be involved.
A will can be an important component of a South Carolina estate plan. As readers now know, however, there are many different requirements that must be met for a will to stand up to challenges. Testamentary capacity is an essential part of a valid will and further questions on the topic should be directed to knowledgeable estate planning attorneys.