What constitutes “of sound mind and body”?

UPDATED: Jul 20, 2010

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What constitutes “of sound mind and body”?

Friends father is going through chemo/dying. Friend is about to purchase waterfront home from him in HI, probably below market value. Friend’s step-cyblings aren’t going to like the fact that they aren’t getting opportunity to buy home and/or share in equity. Won’t they be able to contest the transaction after father’s death because he wasn’t of sound mind/body, was under duress of chemo?

Asked on July 20, 2010 under Estate Planning, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Stress, even the stress of cancer and the a debilitating treatment, does not render someone incapable to the extent that contracts will be set aside. If that's all it took, after all, almost everyone could find a way to get out of any contract they didn't like--on medication, lost a job, in pain from a back injury, etc. Your friend's father would have to be actually mentally incapable--unable to make his own decisions or understand the implications of his acts. To find him that--even assuming it is the case and there is evidence of it, which is unlikely; I've not heard of chemo therapy debilitating someone mentally in that way or to that extent--would require a legal proceeding and a court order.

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