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Legal Standards for Testamentary Capacity

By Brandan J. Pratt, Esq., CFP

Florida is home to a large population of retirees, and people are living longer and longer. Many people live well into their late 80’s and 90’s. There is a correlation between age and dementia. Therefore, there is a good chance that someone who wants to sign estate planning documents in their late 80’s or 90’s has some degree of dementia. It can be confusing as to whether someone who has dementia, has the requisite mental capacity to sign estate planning documents. This is known as “testamentary capacity”. In Raimi v. Furlong, 702 So. 2d 1273, 1286 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist. 1997), the Third District Court of Appeal established the standards for a determination of “testamentary capacity” and explained the idea of having a “lucid interval.”

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