In many cases, people can put off estate planning until it is too late. Even if a person is still alive, his or her mental capacity may have declined to a point at which sound decisions are no longer possible. As a result, wills created after this point will likely not be considered valid when it comes time to probate Massachusetts estates.
The mental capacity to create a valid will is legally known as testamentary capacity. Often, individuals who suffer from mental disorders, like Alzheimer's disease, may be thought to have lost that capacity if the disease has progressed enough. However, even if a person seems to make poor decisions in other areas of his or her life, if the court believes the decisions made in regard to the will are sound, the document may still be considered legally binding.
A lack of testamentary capacity is one reason that a person may choose to challenge a will. In this type of case, the individual issuing the challenge has the responsibility of providing proof of insufficient mental capacity. This action can prove difficult, and will contests for any reason can delay probate for a considerable amount of time.
If Massachusetts residents want to work toward lessening the chances of conflict over their wills due to questions regarding their mental capacity, they may want to start estate planning while there are no questions regarding their mental states. Interested parties can begin the planning process whenever they see fit. If they do not know where to begin, they may find it helpful to consult with experienced attorneys about their options.