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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

What is an incapacitated person?

Estate planning often has many nuances based on family specifics. Each family is different, and there can be many issues that families run into based on the timing of their estate planning and family dynamics. There are times when a person's mental capacity may be questioned, including if there is a valid will, but in the State of Minnesota, what is an incapacitated person?

Sometimes, an estate plan may be challenged based on a person's mental capacity when it was created. In Minnesota, Minn. Stat. § 524.5-102(6) describes an incapacitated person as:

An individual who, for reasons other than being a minor, is impaired to the extent of lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible personal decisions, and who has demonstrated deficits in behavior which evidence an inability to meet personal needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, or safety, even with appropriate technological assistance.

A person's incapacity may need to be evaluated by a medical professional, an interview with the person and conversations with family members. Many areas need to be evaluated for a person to be determined as incapacitated.

If a family suspects that their loved one is incapacitated and their estate plan may have been created without their full engagement, they may want to speak with a legal professional who is skilled in estate planning. An attorney understands these complex and emotional family issues and can help their client uncover what is going on with their loved one and their will, trust or other estate matter. They can help the family member have a thorough mental evaluation and offer suggestions for how to proceed.

No one expects to find himself or herself part of a probate dispute, but it can happen to any family. Having an attorney on one's side can help a family through the many intricacies of an estate dispute.

Source:, "Recognizing capacity, diminished capacity, and undue influence in your clients," Allison J. Frasier, Oct. 22, 2014

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