I’m afraid my children will say I was incompetent when I made my Will

Leona Helmsley’s Story

Real estate tycoon Leona Helmsley, who served time in jail for tax evasion, was referred to in the tabloids as The Queen of Mean. When she died in 2007 at the age of 87, she left an estate worth billions. Her closest surviving relatives were her four grandchildren. For reasons she did not explain, she left legacies to two of them but disinherited the other two. She famously left $12 million dollars for the care of her dog Trouble. The two disinherited grandchildren challenged the will on the basis that Leona was mentally unfit, as evidenced by the excessive provision for her pooch. The court agreed and reduced the dog’s gift to $2 million, giving $6 million to the two disinherited grandchildren.

Lawyer’s comment: If the provisions of your Will are unusual, and you think there is a chance that someone will try to challenge it on the grounds that you lacked testamentary capacity, you can be pro-active by having an assessment done by a physician or a designated Capacity Assessor for the Province of Ontario. Your lawyer will also have notes in his or her file as to your testamentary capacity in the event that your will is challenged.

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