We often hear from family members that assume it’s too late for their loved one to create and sign a new will because the person has dementia. Yes, at some point in the disease process, a person living with dementia will lose the capacity to sign legal documents. Having a diagnosis of dementia, however, does not automatically mean that a person cannot sign any legal documents. The capacity to make decisions for oneself can exist even when a dementia diagnosis is present. The focus should not be on the diagnosis but on the functioning abilities of the person wishing to create and sign a new will. In most states a person must prove that they have the following abilities in order to sign a new will:
1. the ability to know the nature and extent of one’s property,
2. the ability to know the natural objects of one’s bounty, and
3. the ability to understand the nature of the testamentary act.
A person with dementia, especially if still in the early stages of dementia, likely still possesses these abilities and can, therefore, create and sign a new will. A thorough consultation with an elder law attorney will help you understand your options and rights. To start a complimentary phone consultation with us, please call us at (404) 843-0121.