Q: Can a spouse have a person with dementia sign legal papers?
My father is 98 and in a nursing home. He has always been adamant that his house would go to his children. Now his wife, who has insisted for years that he Has dementia, has gotten him to give her the house. What is our recourse?
A: Some people in the early stages of dementia have a "lucid moment" in which they have legal capacity to sign a Will. The doctor's diagnosis should tell you whether this is a possibility for your father. If not, report the matter to Adult Protective Services. You may also want to take whatever documents you have to an elder lawyer. You can find one near you on the website of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (www.naela.org).
A: You should definitely do something. You'll want to get an attorney that does guardianship and also estates law.
If he allegedly gave the wife the house with a deed, then you will need to do something now. If he allegedly gives her the house in the will, then you may have to wait until after his death to legally contest the will. Either way, the basic argument is that he lacked capacity or that he was subjected to "undue influence" by the wife.
Many attorneys will offer a free or inexpensive consultation, so I'd recommend talking with someone.
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