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Determining Capacity

California Lawyers Advise on the Legal Capacity of Will and Trust Makers

Palm Desert attorneys work to determine whether documents are enforceable

Longer life spans and complicated financial issues mean that many people make significant changes to their wills and trusts during their senior years. When an unexpected decision is made, however, some may question whether the testator or trust creator possessed the proper legal capacity to issue that instruction. Bochnewich Law Offices in Palm Desert represents Southern California clients in various types of claims pertaining to the validity of wills and trusts. These determinations can be very complex; even the diagnosis of a mental disorder might not be enough to prevent enforcement of the instrument in question. That’s why it’s important to seek the help of a qualified lawyer who has dealt with such matters. Attorney Peter M. Bochnewich has more than 20 years of legal experience in this area and provides exceptional counsel to parties on both sides of these issues.

Coachella Valley firm handles disputes over testamentary capacity

People sometimes refer to “diminished capacity” when assessing these matters, but that doesn’t accurately describe the California standard. Just because someone might not be as mentally sharp as they used to be does not mean that a document they executed will not be enforced. Starting with a free initial consultation, we’ll make a thorough review of relevant statutory factors, including:

  • Alertness and thought processes — If a person has difficulty paying attention or is unaware of their surroundings, it can be evidence that they lacked sufficient capacity to make valid choices.
  • Ability to understand one’s actions — Courts can evaluate the ability of someone to understand and appreciate the consequences of his or her actions. Evidence of memory loss, inability to communicate, failure to reason and unfamiliarity with common objects might be introduced.
  • Periods of impairment — Hallucinations, delusions or other instances of severely disorganized thinking might be crucial to building a case for incapacity, if a connection can be made to the time frame when the subject action occurred. A court may take into consideration the frequency, severity and duration of periods of impairment.

Capacity challenges can be lodged in connection with wills, trusts, contracts, marriages and other key legal decisions. After discussing the relevant circumstances with us, you’ll have the information you need to make a decision on how to proceed. From there, we can develop the strongest possible argument on your behalf.

Contact an experienced California wills and trusts attorney for a free consultation

Bochnewich Law Offices represents Southern Californians in actions relating to capacity questions and other trust and estate matters. Please call 760-776-1377 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our office, located in Palm Desert.

Our Office
  • Palm Desert Office
    43100 Cook Street
    Suite 203
    Palm Desert, California 92211
    Phone: 760-776-1377
    Fax: 760-776-1380
    Testimonials
    • "I've been a client of Peter for number of years on a variety of different issues, from litigation, negotiations, personal advice and trusts. In all cases I have been extremely pleased. My father advised me decades ago that I would need a few things in life, an attorney, and a financial advisor both younger than I being amongst them. Peter recommended an outstanding financial advisor and now I have a team that will likely be with me the remainder of my days."  -David Davila

    • "Esquire Bochnewich is a first rate lawyer and is highly professional. By my own experience, Mr. Bochnewich is an astute litigator and is very knowledgeable and skilled in his practice of trusts, estates, and conservatorships."  -Dr. Jean Marie

    • "Peter is a first rate lawyer and litigator. He has exceptional ethics and expertise in a variety of areas of law. If I need legal advice or to refer a case I would turn to Peter without hesitation. You can consider this my highest recommendation."  -Jim Ferguson

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