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Can a Will Be Signed or Changed By Someone with Dementia?

One common question we receive is whether a person with dementia may sign or update their last will and testament. For a will to be considered valid, the signee must have “testamentary capacity.” In other words, a person must be mentally competent enough to understand the implications of what they are signing. For a person to be deemed mentally competent, they must:


1. Understand what a will is and how it functions to distribute property; and

2. Understand what they own; and

3. Remember and understand who their relatives and descendants are and can clearly articulate their designated beneficiaries.


If you are in doubt about any of these, we suggest that you consult a doctor who can provide medical evidence of a person’s testamentary capacity. This is a way help safeguard the validity of a will if a will is ever contested.


For a free, confidential conversation to discuss estate planning, contact Maryland estate attorney Stephen J. Reichert at 410-299-4959, or by emailing


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