Testamentary capacity is a continuum.  Somewhere along the line, a testator slips from having the requisite capacity to execute a will to not having it.  Where that line falls, however, is the subject of much litigation.

In Deroy v. Estate of Baron, the Appellate Court of Connecticut helped clarify that line under Connecticut law.

A trial court had ruled that a testator lacked the capacity to make a will based on a neurologist’s report about the testator that stated:  “Given her cognitive impairments, it is unlikely that she would be able to make fully informed, thoughtful judgments regarding complex financial issues.”

This, however, was the wrong standard to apply.

It was error to require the testator to possess a mental acuity necessary to make decisions regarding “complex financial issues.”

Under Connecticut law, to make a valid will, a testator must have had mind and memory sound enough to know and understand the business upon which she was engaged, the execution of a will, and the very time she executed it.

 In other words, someone can have the capacity to make a will, but be incapable of transacting business generally.