Can a person with dementia make a will?

If you are noticing the first signs of dementia in an elderly relative in Minnesota, you may be concerned that he or she has not yet drafted a will. Maybe certain wishes have been expressed in the past, and without a will, the assets intended for one will go to another during the probate process. If nothing else, dying without one may result in higher taxes. 

Fortunately, the onset of dementia does not automatically render a person incapable of taking care of end-of-life planning issues. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, to have legal capacity, your loved one must be able to understand what is happening, what property he or she owns, and what the consequences of the actions expressed in the will are. 

Even though you and other relatives may believe there is no will, you should do what you can to ensure that this is so. It could be that even if the loved one now says a will has never been created, it actually does exist. If the document comes to light, it may be a good idea to review it to make sure that it is legal and does not need revisions or corrections.

It is possible that family members who know of the cognitive health issues may challenge a will made during this time. Experts recommend having a health care provider assess your relative’s mental capacity and give a professional opinion. This may be useful later if there are any disputes. Other factors may affect the validity of a will created by a person with dementia. Therefore, this educational information should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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