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What is the role of capacity in estate planning?

When you are planning your estate in Massachusetts, you may have to undergo a capacity test of some kind to ensure you have the mental capacity to legally create your estate documents. Most often the idea of capacity is used when it comes to the creation of your will, according to the American Psychological Association.

There are some set standards used to assess competence when it comes to legal ability to draft and sign a will. In short, you must be able to understand what you are doing when you are creating the document. You also need to know what property you own and how your creation of the will is going to distribute this property.

The legal standard varies from the psychological standard because you only have to prove ability in the single moment in which you are creating a legal document. So, even if on a daily basis, you are not proven to be clear thinking, it does not matter as long as you were thinking lucidly on the day you created your will.

It is important to note that undue influence is completely separate from capacity in the legal field. Undue influence is when someone is trying to get you to do what they want through any means. While a diminished capacity can make you more susceptible to being influenced by someone else, this is not always the case, so you can be capable of executing a legal document yet still fall victim to the influence of someone else. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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