What it means to be “of sound mind”

It is important to take care of one’s physical and mental health. As a person ages or transitions through the stages of life, they may notice that their body and mind respond differently than they did in years past. A California resident may be aware of how differences in their mental and physical abilities impact the way that they live their life.

It is important to create a will when an individual is capable of preparing, drafting, and executing their testamentary document. When a person is no longer of sound mind, they may be barred from executing their testamentary wishes in the form of a binding legal will. This post will introduce the concept of soundness of mind but should not be interpreted as legal or medical advice.

Defining soundness of mind

Understanding what it means to have a sound mind can be complicated. Under California law, a person who does not have the capacity to understand what their will can accomplish, or who does not remember or recognize their own items of property, may be considered to lack soundness of mind. However, there are other ways that a person may be found to lack a sound mind:

  • Lacking the ability to recognize relatives and other beneficiaries who may benefit from their will
  • Suffering from a medical condition that impairs reasoning due to hallucinations or delusions
  • Other individual factors that may suggested a lack of capacity

Without the ability to understand one’s will, the execution of it cannot take place.

Working to prepare a legally enforceable will

A will drafted by a person who was not of sound mind may not be honored after their death. As such, it is important that individuals do all that they can to protect their testamentary wishes during the preparation of their estate documents. An estate planning attorney can advise and guide an individual through the requirement steps to execute a valid will, including any provisions related to testamentary capacity and soundness of mind.