‘Testamentary Capacity in Dementia’ (03 June 2013 10:00h – 13:00h) – Presentation followed by in-depth plenary session about the complexities of leaving an estate to beneficiaries following a diagnosis of dementia.
‘Dementia’ is an umbrella term used to describe many types of deteriorating diseases – the most common ones are Alzhiemer’s disease, Vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia.
Many married couples own property as ‘joint tenants’. Upon death, ownership automatically passes to the survivor. If property is owned as ‘tenants in common’, one half of the estate belonging to the deceased is dealt with by their Will. Problems arise when there is no Will, when others make a claim, or when another Will is executed.
‘Testamentary capacity’ is a person’s legal and mental ability to make a
valid Will. There are three premises: Presumption of capacity; Requirements; Proof of testamentary capacity.
It is proposed that the law should allow testators alternative means of satisfying the testamentary capacity standard such as an option to validate a testator’s capacity during their lifetime through forensic assessment measuring cognitive elements of testamentary capacity.
It does not remove the difficulty of knowing the status of person at a specific time line. However, it goes some way to describing a person during their lifetime in terms of mental ability and capacity.
Thompson, SBN (2006). Dementia and memory: a handbook for students and professionals. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Thompson, SBN (2012). Dementia. In SBN Thompson (Ed), Psychology of trauma: clinical reviews, case histories, research (pp169-202). Portsmouth: Blackwell-Harvard-Academic.