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Phone: 925-852-6014

Free 30 Minute Initial Consultation. Telephone Conferences Available via Phone and Video.

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Can you change your will after a dementia diagnosis?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Estate Planning |

More and more people are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia than ever before – in part because medical professionals have gotten more aggressive about screening senior patients for early signs of cognitive disorders.

There’s nothing like being told that you have an incurable, progressive condition, however, to make you reevaluate your priorities and goals – and your estate plans may also need some changes. Is it still possible to revise your will and other estate documents once you already have a dementia diagnosis?

It’s all about testamentary capacity

These days, many dementia diagnoses come after cognitive testing, well before the symptoms have any effect on the patient’s daily life. It may be years between your diagnosis and the time when you begin to outwardly show any true impairment from your condition. 

The most important question is whether or not you still have the “testamentary capacity” to make any changes to your will. Essentially, this is a question of competence. You’re considered competent to make or change a will so long as you:

  • Understand the nature of your actions and what it means to make or change the will
  • Know the current disposition of your assets and other property
  • Know your relationship to those who might be affected by your will, such as your spouse, children and others
  • Do not suffer from delusions or hallucinations that affect your decisions

If you want to make changes to your estate plan but you’re concerned that questions may later be raised about your testamentary capacity, a legal consultation may provide the answers you need.