Dementia is a progressive condition that severely impacts an individual’s cognitive abilities. Because of how quickly the mind can degenerate, estate planning should take place as soon as a diagnosis of the condition occurs.
Even though the condition grows progressively worse, many individuals live for years with the disease before it affects their quality of life. During this time, the individual could make their own decisions about writing a will and determining their estate plan.
Sufficient mental awareness
Florida requires that those who create a will be of testamentary capacity. This is the mental ability to understand the extent and nature of the property in the discussion. The individual also needs an understanding of the impact of the will when executed and the ability to define the relationships between the testator and beneficiaries of the will. Although there is the potential for a testamentary capacity challenge to the will if the individual had dementia at the time of drafting, the burden of proof rests with those who contest the will.
Sound mind and judgment
For individuals with dementia, the condition progresses to the point where there are very few moments of lucidity or comprehension. It is much easier to challenge a will when there is medical evidence supporting the individual’s lack of mental presence or being of a sound mind when drafting a will. The court looks at the individual’s condition before and after the will to determine testamentary capacity.
The degenerative nature of dementia should encourage individuals to make their legal plans as soon as possible. This can prevent confusion and help protect the validity of the will.