Losing a loved one, even if they had reached an advanced age or struggled with health issues for years, is still difficult. Grief is a powerful emotion that can take months or even years to fully process.
Few things will complicate your grieving process as thoroughly as shock about the terms of your loved one’s estate plan. Perhaps they left everything to someone who isn’t even your family despite having a good relationship with all of their children. Maybe they made last-minute changes that don’t reflect their values or what they promised their family members previously.
In some scenarios, Minnesota heirs and beneficiaries concerned about the terms included in an estate plan can challenge the documents because of the health issues or age of the testator.
Individuals need to be of sound mind to create a will
Drafting legally binding documents is something that only adults can do. Not only does someone need to be legally an adult, having achieved either the age of majority or emancipation through the family courts, but they also need to have the mental capacity of an adult as well.
In Minnesota, those with certain health issues or cognitive decline due to age may no longer have the testamentary capacity to create estate plans or other legally-binding documents. Reviewing the date when your loved one made or updated their will could help you build the case to challenge it in court.
If they created or changed the documents after a doctor diagnosed them with Alzheimer’s disease or after they had already displayed clear signs of cognitive impairments in other areas of their life, you may be able to challenge the estate plan based on your family member’s lack of mental capacity.
How do you prove a lack of capacity?
For some families, the process of challenging estate documents based on someone’s mental capacity will be simple. There will be a diagnosis predating the documents by several years and other records of their loved one’s challenges, like a history of unpaid bills because they struggled to organize their daily life. Statements by care providers and family members could also play a role in your attempt to challenge their estate plan altogether or any revisions to the documents.
If your challenge is successful, the probate courts might change the estate plan back to a prior version or they may treat the estate as though your loved one died without a plan in place, distributing assets among the closest family members according to state law. Learning more about the rules that govern will challenges can help you decide if going to court makes sense in your circumstance.