NC Change of Beneficiary Form Challenges & Mental Capacity

Posted on Oct 14, 2015 in challenging a last will and testament, Contesting a Will

NC Change of Beneficiary Form Challenges & Mental Capacity

Last Wills & Testaments only transfer undesignated assets such as real property, accounts without death beneficiaries, personal property, stocks, business interests.

But what if the decedent allegedly signed a Transfer on Death (a/k/a Paid on Death Beneficiary, life insurance policy, annuity contracts, Totten Trust, Joint Account with Right of Survivorship) or a deed before they died?

Similar rules apply to challenging the document as there are with Will Contests (aka Will Caveats). Was this an invalid gift?

Did the decedent have the mental capacity at the time the change of beneficiary form was executed?

Was there undue influence exerted on the account owner at the time the change of beneficiary form was filled out? Undue influence would be exerting influence on a susceptible person. There are five elements to prove in an undue influence attack. Those are discussed in other articles on

Some courts apply a harder test for a lifetime disposition of assets (lifetime instruments) than when “breaking a will”.

Part of the attack is based on capacity to execute a contract. If a party lacks capacity due to mental disease or defects then the contract has voidable obligations.

Basically, did the person possess sufficient reasoning to understand the effect and nature of the contract and the execution of the contract? Know they were disinheriting the previously named beneficiaries? Is it going to a stranger in blood.

Other issues include, did the person understand the effect of making a contract to change the beneficiaries?

If you have a life insurance change of beneficiary issue, Financial Account beneficiary designation change, trust execution, or Deeds issues that involve lack of capacity or undue influence,

call Kirk Sanders 336-723-7200 (North Carolina Estate Litigation Attorney). Kirk is the chairperson of Hendrick Bryant’s Fiduciary Litigation Section.

Many of these cases are filed as a companion lawsuit along with will caveat litigation.

NC Estate Litigation Attorney

NC Estate Litigation Attorney