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Understanding Testamentary Mental Capacity: Safeguarding Your Last Wishes

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

When it comes to estate planning and writing a will, ensuring that your wishes are accurately represented and legally binding is of utmost importance. Testamentary mental capacity plays a vital role in this process, ensuring that an individual has the cognitive ability to make informed decisions about their will and estate. In this blog, we will delve into the concept of testamentary mental capacity, its significance in creating a valid will, and how Nellie Supports can assist in safeguarding your last wishes.

What is Testamentary Mental Capacity?

Testamentary mental capacity, also known as capacity to make a will, refers to a person's ability to understand the nature and consequences of creating a will. It involves having the mental acuity to comprehend the value and extent of one's estate, the beneficiaries, and the legal implications of the will's provisions. In essence, testamentary capacity ensures that individuals have the necessary cognitive ability to make informed decisions about distributing their assets after their passing.

Why is Testamentary Mental Capacity Important?

The significance of testamentary mental capacity cannot be overstated. Creating a will requires a clear and sound mind to avoid any disputes or challenges to its validity in the future. A person must understand the assets they possess, the potential beneficiaries, and the implications of the choices made in the will. Testamentary mental capacity acts as a safeguard against undue influence, fraud, or coercion, ensuring that the will truly reflects the individual's intentions.

The Golden Rule - Banks v. Goodfellow (1870)

In the landmark case of Banks v. Goodfellow, the "Golden Rule" was established as a guiding principle for testamentary mental capacity. According to this rule, in cases where an elderly or ill testator is making a will, it is advisable to involve a medical practitioner to assess and confirm the testator's mental capacity. The medical expert should document their assessment and findings to provide evidence of the testator's understanding and capacity at the time of making the will.

How Nellie Supports Can Help

At Nellie Supports, we understand the importance of testamentary mental capacity assessments in the will-making process. Our team of experienced Social Workers is well-versed in conducting comprehensive assessments aligned with the Banks v. Goodfellow case law. We ensure that the assessment is conducted at a pace that suits the individual, promoting a relaxed and comfortable environment for them to express their wishes.

In situations where an individual may lack the capacity to make their own will, our seamless transition to a Court of Protection Form 3 (COP3) allows for an application for a statutory will. This process helps protect the person's best interests and ensures their estate is managed in accordance with their wishes, even when they are unable to express them independently.


Testamentary mental capacity is a crucial aspect of estate planning and will creation. It ensures that your last wishes are accurately represented and legally binding. The Golden Rule established in Banks v. Goodfellow provides valuable guidance in assessing testamentary capacity, and Nellie Supports is here to help you navigate this process with expertise and sensitivity. Safeguard your legacy and protect your loved ones by ensuring your testamentary mental capacity assessment is conducted by professionals who prioritize your best interests.

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