Date of Conferral
Dr. Jessica Hart
This study focused on the experience of probate attorneys with the lucid interval in contested will cases. There is a gap in the research for understanding the lucid interval for people who live with dementia. Dementia can affect the testamentary capacity (TC) of a testator who is signing a will because the testator may not understand all the property that is in their possession. This causes difficulties and conflict for families when a loved one dies. It can also cause the testator to be susceptible to undue influence. The present study analyzed data from interviews with 6 probate attorneys about their experience with the lucid interval and its significance in contested will cases. These attorneys were selected based on their experience with contested will cases. Through interpretative phenomenological analysis, the study found that the lucid interval can be used as part of an overall argument, but it is usually not the entire argument for an attorney who is advocating either for or against the TC of a testator. There were 4 themes identified from the study: Probate attorneys must have a basic understanding of dementia for contested will cases; lucid intervals do not affect the validity of a will; dementia affects a testator’s ability to sign a will; and forensic psychological reports are useful in contested will cases. The disease of dementia is one the main reasons for contested will cases. The present study is important because it addresses issues pertaining to contested wills that can cause family discord. The study addresses these issues and ways that new knowledge can help prevent family problems.