PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options. Learn More
Open: Menu Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe, LLP
Call Now to Begin a Consultation
Open: Practice Areas

Estate planning requires a sound mind, but how is that defined?

Can a person think he or she is of sound mind but not be so? It is logical to assume that certain mental illnesses or levels of decline in mental capacity might prompt conditions wherein a man or woman is not fully aware that he or she is not fully aware. Dementia, for instance, may be present without the person afflicted by it realizing there is a problem. When it comes to estate planning, it is critical that an Illinois resident executing an estate plan be of sound mind; otherwise, the documents therein may be invalid.

How is a sound mind legally defined? Most states list two essential components to determining whether a testator is capable of executing a valid will or other estate document. First, the person must clearly understand what he or she is doing. He or she must also show understanding of the implications of the action; for instance, in signing a last will and testament, the estate owner must understand that he or she is planning for the distribution of assets.

If a person signing a will is under duress, such as a situation where someone else is using coercion to prompt the signature, it may invalidate the document in question, just as a mental deficit would. Being of sound mind with regarding to the estate planning process is known as having "testamentary capacity." There are, in fact, additional requirements to ensure an estate plan's validity.

Such requirements include age stipulations; all states require a person making a will to have reached the age of majority, usually 18. It is also typically required that a person executing a will must have two disinterested witnesses present to add their signatures to the document. An Illinois attorney who is well-versed in estate laws can explain the requirements in greater detail. Such an attorney can also remain available down the line, should any adjustments or updates be necessary in a particular plan.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

How Can I Help You?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy


Lesser Lutrey Pasquesi & Howe, LLP
191 E. Deerpath Suite 300
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Phone: 847-295-8800
Fax: 847-295-8886
Lake Forest Law Office Map

Chicago Office
161 N. Clark Street
Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: 847-295-8800
Fax: 312-523-2001
Chicago Law Office Map

  • Facebook
  • Linked In
  • Twitter