Mental incapacity and undue influence are the most common theories used to try to invalidate wills, trusts and beneficiary designations in California and elsewhere. Occasionally, the subject in a trust and estate dispute has a thorough cognitive evaluation performed contemporaneously with his or her estate planning change. But, more often than not, the medical record is fragmentary.
In a prior post, we discussed the recurring issues that come up in cases involving Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Charles Schaffer, a Sacramento forensic psychiatrist, recently sent me an article entitled “Protecting the Health and Finances of the Elderly with Early Cognitive Impairment,” published this year in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. The article focuses on mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s disease. The relatively subtle nature of these two medical conditions makes their impact on estate planning decisions hard to fathom. Continue Reading