Concerned about a relative's mental capacity?

How do I know if my relative has the mental capacity to make a Will?

When a relative is diagnosed with a debilitating condition, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is important to put their affairs in order at an early stage. This will include ensuring that they have a valid Will and making a Lasting Power of Attorney. This needs to be done as soon as possible, before the question of whether or not they have sufficient mental capacity arises.

Mental capacity, in the context of making a Will, broadly relates to whether a person is capable of;

  • Understanding what making a Will means and its effect;

  • Appreciating the extent of his or her assets; and

  • Considering potential beneficiaries in a fair and objective way, unaffected by any condition that might affect his or her judgement.

It is not always straightforward to decide whether or not a person is able to make a Will. Mental capacity, particularly in the earlier stages of a condition such as dementia, can fluctuate from day-to-day and the extent of a persons’ understanding may not always be clear. Where there is uncertainty it is advisable to obtain a medical certificate of capacity from a GP.

To avoid mental capacity becoming a problem do not delay in seeing a Solicitor to start the process of making a Will. You should also discuss creating a Lasting Power of Attorney giving a friend or relative power to look after your loved one’s affairs when they are no longer able to themselves.

For further information or a confidential discussion please contact our knowledgeable Private Client team on 01256 844888.