Mental Capacity fights can get ugly. In January of 2011, a man died with a sizeable estate. He left no spouse and one adult daughter. Prior to his death, he conducted a series of banking transactions and executed a Will, which distributed his entire estate to his purported girlfriend, without reference to his only child and sole heir.
His daughter suffered from a physical disability which made it difficult for her to explain her story and to find an attorney. My firm was retained the represent her interest as a disinherited child. A lawsuit was filed against the girlfriend challenging the admission of the Will and the banking transactions alleging, inter alia, lack of mental capacity and undue influence.
After conducting extensive discovery, it became apparent that the decedent failed to consider “the natural objects of his bounty” and an understanding of the dispositions being made. Despite his ongoing relationship with his daughter the decedent failed to mention her existence when planning and executing his Will. Discovery revealed that the attorney who drafted the Will had notes which indicated that the decedent had “no children.”
Mental Capacity Law in Michigan
Whether a testator has sufficient testamentary mental capacity to make a Will is governed by MCL 700.2501. That statute states that an individual has sufficient testamentary mental capacity to make a Will if the following requirements are met: (1) the individual has the ability to understand that he or she is providing for the disposition of his or her property after death (2) the individual has the ability to know the nature and extent of his or her property (3) The individual knows the natural objects of his or her bounty and (4) the individual has the ability to understand in a reasonable manner the general nature and effect of his or her act in signing the Will. Whether a testator had sufficient mental capacity is judged as of the time the Will was executed, not before or after. The contestant of the Will has the burden of establishing the lack of testamentary capacity.
In this video, The Probate Pro discusses the probate litigation for Will and Trust matters.
Another Win for The Probate Pro
Fortunately, The Probate Pro was successful in unwinding the wrongful acts of the girlfriend.