Scarcely a month goes by without some news related to a potential breakthrough in the war against dementia and Alzheimer's disease. While this is good news to the people who are suffering or know somebody who has contracted one of these conditions, the fact remains that many elderly people do not have the necessary mental capacity to understand what is happening in their lives. This is particularly problematic when it comes to the creation of a last will and testament, especially as there are some elements of society who would wish to take advantage of the situation. If you're worried about this exact scenario in relation to a loved one and their will, what do you need to consider?
In Australia, there is a considerable amount of settled case law relating to mental capacity at the time of signing a will. Many cases have been brought before the legal system to suggest that the individual in question would not have signed the will document if they had been in better health, or was encouraged to do so by someone with ulterior motives.
Money Trumps Everything
It is a depressing thought, but sometimes money can be an overriding factor when it comes to people's behaviour. If there is a lot on the line in terms of estate distribution, then pressure may be brought to bear on the ailing person to sign a document that favours one person over another.
Uncovering Foul Play
This type of behaviour can become increasingly apparent if there are a number of will updates in recent times. All family members should be aware of such documents and be very clear why they have been created. If there is any inclination that the ailing relative may been coerced into signing something they didn't fully understand, then legal advice should be sought as soon as possible.
Figuring It out
Usually, lawyers are able to unravel any attempt to unfairly influence, by looking at medical evidence, the advice of expert doctors, the relationship (or sometimes otherwise) of a beneficiary to the will maker and other factors. It is certainly possible to overturn a particular will in favour of a previous one, should this position become apparent.
If you suspect that there may have been any foul play to try and take advantage of the will maker's disposition, get in touch with an attorney who specialises in will and probate law as soon as possible to start a process of discovery.