What is testamentary capacity?

Testamentary capacity is the legal term used to describe a person’s legal and mental ability to make or alter a will. In general, if someone can do all four of the following things, the law determines that they have testamentary capacity:

  • Understand the extent and value of their property
  • Understand they’re making a will and deciding who will inherit their property
  • Understand who the people are that are closest to them (the people that might expect to be left something in the will)
  • Not be suffering from a delusion which makes them act differently from normal

If you think any of these points could be in doubt, we recommend that you ask a medical practitioner to act as one of your witnesses. This can help to prove that you have capacity to sign your will. There are a few other reasons why you may need a medical practitioner to witness your will, which will be covered later in this article.