FM>Chap 21: Forensic Psychiatry>Short Essay 6

6) TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY. (OS – MAY, 2000)
ANS:
It is the mental ability of a person to make a valid will. “will” denotes any testamentary document (S.31, I.P.C)
The requirements for a valid will are:
a written, properly signed &witnessed document must exist.
The testator must be a major, & of sound disposing mind, at the time of making the will.
Any force, undue influence or dishonest representation of facts, must not have been applied by others.
“Holograph will” is one which is written by a testator in his own handwriting.
A sound disposing mind is a mind which has the capacity of recalling, judging& feeling the relations, connections & obligations of his family & blood relations.
Doctors are sometimes called upon to witness the execution of the will of a sick person. The doctor examines in the following manner:
physical examination
mental state examination including intelligence testing.
Lab. Investigations.
The testator is said to be of sound mind if he is capable of disposing his property with understanding &reason. The tests done to find out if testator is of sound & disposing mind are:
preliminary questions:
*relatives: => number,
=> degree of social contact with them
*Family, friends & business partners
*personal details: age, politics & hobbies
2) general questions:
*to test orientation to time, place & person.
3) questions on properties:
*nature, extent & value.
*manner of distribution desired by him: if unusual, whether unintentional on intentional ,&the reasons for the same.
*ability to repeat the main provisions of the will.
4) test for concentration power:
*simple arithmetic sums.
5) rule out any pressure/influence on him:
*by enquiring in privacy.
6) test for impaired memory:
*as it is the most common symptom of absence of legal capacity.
The most important thing to determine is whether at the time of making the will, testator understood the business in which he was engaged&, knew how he wanted to dispose off his property.
Legal implications:
person with insane delusion can make valid will, if his delusion is unrelated to disposal of property.
An insane Person can make valid will during lucid interval.
A will is considered valid even if testator committed suicide shortly after making will, if no other evidence of mental disorder is present.
Old age & feeble health with defective memory can make valid will, unless mind is so impaired as to unable to understand its nature & consequences.
A person having motor or sensory aphasia, agraphia, alexia, or even a deaf, dumb or blind can make a valid will, if he knows what he does & can make clear gestures of it, and able to understand the questions put to him in this regard.
A will by aged at the point of death may be suspicious as at that time a clear mind is unusual.
A will executed by dying person during delirium is invalid.
A person can’t make a valid will, when drunkenness causes a temporary loss of reasoning powers.

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