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Why a man’s mental capacity when making a will is in doubt

A $52 million estate of a wealthy older man – Peter Malcolm Reid – who died last year and what Ms Roberts – his much younger lover and niece (by marriage) – is entitled to is currently under dispute. It is mostly under dispute because Mr Reid’s capacity at the time of making the will is in doubt. Find out more about proving mental capacity and what Gerard Malouf & Partners’ wills disputes lawyers can do to help if you feel you have been unfairly treated in a will.

A recent case where a client’s mental capacity is in doubt

The defendants are claiming that Mr Reid was too impaired by dementia and was thus not eligible to make such decisions, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. A number of testamentary documents are under dispute because they were allegedly signed in “suspicious circumstances” with “undue influence” by one of the executors.

Each of these documents has varying degrees of formality over a 13 year period from 2001 to 2014.

All in all, his niece and lover – Ms Roberts – has allegedly received $1.2 million from him. She eventually moved into his apartment, as well.

Ms Roberts says that she organised and oversaw Mr Reid’s round-the-clock nursing care, which started in 2007 when his Alzheimer’s disease worsened.

On the basis of their intimate relationship and her expenses, Ms Roberts has asked the court to order Mr Reid’s executors to give her $150,000 to meet her most pressing expenses.

What mental capacity is required to make a will? 

At Gerard Malouf & Partners, we can help you determine whether a person making a will had mental capacity at the time of making it. We will give you expert advice to ensure that a proper capacity assessment is done.

According to NSW Government’s Legal Answers website, anyone over 18 can make a will so long as they have the mental capacity. It states that someone who is just in the early stages of dementia may be able to make a will if they have capacity at the time the will is made.

If their capacity is being questioned, however, an assessment of their understanding needs to be undertaken by a doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist. One of these experts will determine if the person tests the “testamentary” capacity when they made the will.

To find out more about what is required to prove if a person had the mental capacity to make a will or defend yourself against legal challenges, contact one of our lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners.

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Contesting Wills
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