The claim that a last will and testament is invalid because the decedent had Alzheimer’s when it was written and was therefore mentally incompetent is actually an extremely difficult contestation to prove. This difficulty is due in large part to the fact that Alzheimer’s, like other forms of dementia, is a progressive disease; it gets gradually worse over time and is in no way reversible.
Simply proving that the decedent was, at one time, given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is not enough to put their last will and testament into question. Instead, you have to prove that the mental capacity of your loved one at the time he or she signed and dated the will was questionable. You must also prove that the deceased had no cognitive understanding of what they were writing or signing at the time. If you plan on contesting a last will and testament because the deceased was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s in your best interest to retain the council of a qualified will and probate attorney as soon as possible.
Stages to Contesting a Will
1. File an Objection to the Will
First, you must file an objection to the will with the probate courts immediately. In the state of California, you only have a small, 120 day grace period in which to contest a will so time is really not on your side here. If you think that there might be an issue with the will, then it is best to file your objection rather than delay. If you turn out to be mistaken later on, then you can always withdraw your petition.
2. Prove the Mental State of the Decedent
Next, you will need to find proof of the mental state that your loved one was in when they made their last will and testament, which will most likely mean a lot of legwork for you in a fairly short period of time. Things like access to the medical records of the deceased, and statements from family and friends regarding their mental status at the time of the writing of the will may help.
You may even need to retain an expert witness to guide you and the court through exactly what is contained within the medical records. A Los Angeles will and probate attorney can guide you through this process and help you to collect the evidence needed to contest the will.
If you are able to, you should also locate any writings, photographs, or videos of your loved one around the time that the last will and testament was written. These more personal accounts might help to demonstrate their deteriorated mental state outside of your own opinion
3. Attain the Help of a Probate and Estate Attorney
Hire a qualified last will and testament attorney. Not only do you have the burden of proof on your shoulders when it comes to proving your case, but you will have to do so in a court of law before a judge. The entire ordeal is going to be a lengthy, complicated process that can quickly drain your resources and surpass your understanding of both legal and medical matters. Having a reputable and experienced last will and testament attorney working to prove your case for you is going to give you the best of all possible outcomes.
California Probate and Estate Law Firm
Here at Levia Law Firm, our diligent, hard-working attorneys care about what happens to our clients and their families. If you believe that your loved one’s last will and testament is not valid we will work our hardest to prove that fact in court for you. For a free consultation with one of our licensed last will and testament attorneys, please give us a call at (818) 703-1777.