You have probably seen in TV and films where someone writing a Will say they are “of sound mind”. But how exactly does someone prove this? What happens if it can be proven that you are not “of sound mind”? This is something we will look at today.
Generally speaking the term “of sound mind” refers to adults. While children are recognised to have rights under the law (for example what parent they wish to stay with) it is usually something to refer to an adult making a decision that can have significant impact such as creating a trust fund or writing a Will.
Where this can be impacted is if the adult in question has had their mental capacity affected by brain injuries, trauma and so forth. This then means that their decision making can be called into question and that in turn may invalidate any decisions they make regarding Wills, sales of assets etc.
This leads to the difficult question of how you prove whether someone is in the right mental state in order to write Wills, sell companies or other major decisions. Essentially if someone wants to contest a decision the burden is with them and they have to be able to produce evidence that clearly shows a person is not capable of making a decision for themselves or that they are being coerced into it.
However, it is important to note that this is about a person’s mental state- it is not about whether or not they favour a particular relative or person and it isn’t about whether someone feels that their love for a new partner has influenced them.
Essentially the proving aspect is about being able to show you are aware of what you are doing and the potential consequence of it. The fact that some people may disagree with that is not the issue but rather how someone comes to that decision and whether or not they know what they are doing.
As you might expect this is quite a delicate and difficult issue – if you are someone who feels they have to prove their decision making abilities then this can be a worrying and stressful time. Equally some people may feel that disputing this and questioning someone’s mental state is hard but may be vital to prevent them from being exploited.
We are lucky because we have specialist legal experts that can look at this situation and gauge whether or not someone has the capacity to make their own legal decisions. We believe in offering both legal advice and the sensitive client service needed during difficult cases of this nature.
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one and want to know more, please contact us today and we will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail. While it may not be an easy decision we are happy to be there to help you make the right one.