What is the role of capacity in estate planning?

When you are planning your estate and developing all the legal documents that go along with this process, you will be assessed in Minnesota. This assessment is to ensure you have the mental capacity or ability to enter into legally binding agreements, such as a will or a power of attorney. The law has set varying standards for capacity in different situations relating to estate planning according to the American Psychological Association.

Capacity is often judged by your attorney before he or she takes you on as a client. Generally, ethical rules will guide this assessment. Attorneys will often do what they can to ensure you are capable of entering into a legally binding agreement.

In addition, there is a distinction between being capable under the law and being capable by psychological standards. Under the law, you simply need to be comprehensive of the action you are undertaking. This means knowing what you are signing and the details of any documents you are creating at the time you are doing it. If you simply have a moment of clarity when drawing up your estate documents but you are generally having issues with dementia or clear thinking at other times, it does not matter. You just must be thinking clearly and be able to understand at the current time.  

For example, when you want to draw up a will, you need to do so of your own free will. You also need to be able to understand the implications of the document and have knowledge of your property that will be included in the will. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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