Take Steps to Prevent the Questioning of "Sound Mind" in Probate Court
Contesting a will is never easy, as there are certain definitive elements the plaintiff must prove to the courts in order to succeed. In cases when the deceased was very old, the will could be challenged based on the notion that the departed was not of his or her "sound mind" when drafting the document. Granted, it takes a lot of evidence to prove that the person was not in the proper mental state. If you are aging and concerned about someone contesting your will on mental soundness grounds, take certain precautionary steps to refute legal challenges quickly and definitively.
Compile Evidence for the Estate
When the distribution of assets such as real estate, bank accounts, jewelry, and the like are contested, the probate court can consider documents submitted by the representatives of the estate as evidence. Creating these documents may very well help your estate immensely. Medical records would be among the most reliable documents.
Undergo an Examination Prior to Drafting the Will
Seniors do, sadly, suffer from mental-health-affecting problems such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Before the will is drawn up, undergo a complete physical with a primary care physician to establish you are not suffering from these or similar conditions. An appointment with a board certified psychiatrist for the purpose of undergoing a proper mental health evaluation is also suggested.
After completing the examinations, request copies of the medical records. Copies should be provided to the probate attorney who draws up the will. Additional copies are best placed in a safety deposit box in case the ones given to the attorney are lost or misfiled.
List the Reasons for Exclusions
You will have your reasons for why someone was excluded from a will. These reasons could be listed on a notarized document. For example, if one child completely cut off contact from you for several years and this is the reason why he/she is not in the will, spell this out in the document. Notarizing the document in the presence of a witness and a probate attorney surely will add to its credibility.
Record the Drafting of the Will
During the meeting with an attorney to draft the will, make an audio or video recording of the event. The recording stays in your file at the attorney's office so it could be submitted as evidence in court. Your state of mind will be difficult to question when a recording of the drawing of the will exists.
This may be a lot of evidence to compile, but more evidence is better than less. Solid, significant evidence is going to help the estate during the contesting proceedings. For further help and advice, contact a representative from a probate attorney at a firm like Leon J Teichner & Associates, P.C.