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Psychiatric Expert Witness on Capacity Issues

When making a will, it is important for the estate owner to have a sound mind so that the document has less chances of being challenged on this basis. For these processes, a psychiatric expert witness is necessary to explain how the person was of sound mind before death when drafting the will or last testament.

When estate owners create a last will or testament, it is imperative that they are both of sound mind and not pressured into adding additional heirs or beneficiaries. It is in these times that the will is challenged by family. An expert witness is necessary to determine through actions, paperwork, character assessment and similar methods that the estate owner that has passed on was not compromised when drafting or changing his or her will. Through these processes, it may be possible to show that the clauses and conditions within the document are legitimate. This may also bring peace of mind to the family and other dependents.

The capacity of the estate owner is important to explain the changes or provisions within a last testament or will. The reading of this document may be shocking if the family or other dependents receive less than was expected. Sometimes,
the estate owner is more aware of what should be provided to these persons than they may expect him or her to be. This could involve other experts such as a private detective uncovering secrets of these individuals with actions against the estate owner. Then, he or she may have reduced or eliminated funds, real estate and other holdings.

Capacity Issues Explained

When someone has advanced in age, he or she may deal with mental frailty, memory deficiencies or similar ailments that affect the mind and memory. Creating and drafting a will, last testament or other legal documentation at this stage is often fraught with issues for the estate owner. Because he or she is not mentally capable, the paperwork may be more easily challenged when this is proven to the judge in a courtroom. Then, the state may use default laws to distribute the remaining assets to the surviving dependents. However, if the documents were drafted by a lawyer with another witness, this could make the challenge more difficult.

The need for an expert that is able to discern mental behavior and thinking processes is beneficial for those that want to keep the will the same or when a challenge is needed to refute the will contents. A psychiatric expert witness may assist in this manner. He or she may be dealing with little or an abundance of evidence depending on the person. The more he or she has to work with, the easier it may be to discover if the individual was mentally sound. Then, this could be applied to the situation so the will either remains as is or is challenged successfully.

The Psychiatric Expert Witness

When an expert is hired, he or she usually deals with the evidence to explain it to the judge or jury. There is usually something confusing that needs clarification or a connection to show who is liable. However, someone with experience in the mind and behavior looks at the person and his or her life. The evidence becomes the acts and actions of the individual, and the expert then connects what is left behind to determine if there is a connection to wild or inappropriate behavior that could match someone that is no longer capable of making proper decisions. Through these methods of psychology and psychiatry, the professional may show the courtroom how the estate owner was influenced by an outside person or into leaving more for a specific person because he or she was not of sound mind.

The expert could look at all connected paperwork, evidence and witness testimony and find that the estate owner was in his or her right mind with no capacity issues related to the will or last testament. Through sifting through various pieces of information and data, this could be the determination provided to the courts, and the assets allocated to dependents may remain the same.

However, when there is a challenge of this type, it is generally due to capacity issues of the owner that has passed, and his or her decisions appear to make no sense to the surviving heirs. With the weight of a psychiatric expert witness, the court may see how the estate owner was not in his or her right mind to allocate funds and other assets to those listed in the will or last testament.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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