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Can a patient make a Will stand as legal if a patient was treated with morphine five hours before?

Dahlonega, GA |

The patient went to the hospital complaining of chest pain around 3am of the 3rd, was treated with morphine for the pain around 4 am, requested his lawyer and made a will and signed around 10am in which the nurses medical report clearly outlined he was of sound mind. He died 7pm on the 4th of a "cardiac infraction" (heart attack) Could the fact that he was treated with morphine earlier outlaw his will and the nurses opinion??

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

You need to consult a Georgia lawyer skilled in estate matters to get a complete answer, but in general terms, you are looking at the issue of capacity. If you are proposing to challenge the will based on capacity, you and your Georgia lawyer will have the burden of proving that the decedent lacked the capacity to make a will at the time of its preparation and execution based on the factors relevant in Georgia. You will need to obtain all of the available facts regarding the administration of morphine or any other drug that would have a bearing on capacity and the dosage. You will also need to look at the Georgia rules regarding intoxication and whether there is relevant case law indicating when capacity may be considered lost.The Nurse's opinion is some evidence of capcaity, but may not be conclusive. For example, the nurse may not have the ability to actually opine on capacity under Georgia law, you need to check what value her opinion has. It may be the same as any lay witness observing the decedent.

Beyond the capactiy issue, consider facts which may be relevant to undue influence. For example was the decision to make the new will based on the decedent's desires or of the person or persons who brought him to the hospital. Were these persons present during the drafting and were they providing an alternative plan whcih benefited themselves to the detriment of others.

In any event, you are looking at a legal dispute between those benefited under the new will and those under the old to the extent they are different. It may require litigation to get to tthe result you belevie is correct. You should seek qualified Georgia counsel.

Posted

I agree with the prior comment - you're looking at a capacity issue which gets fairly complicated and will likely involve litigation. In most states (note, I'm licensed in VA) the administration of morphine is not prima facie evidence of incapacity; rather, the dosage administered will be important. If the patient was "out of it" at the time, they may have lacked capacity, but often morphine is only administered in small doses to relieve pain, in which case the patient could be perfectly capable of executing a will. I strongly encourage you to get with a GA attorney to discuss all the facts - if you can get them, bring the medical records, and good luck.

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DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION PRESENTED HERE IS GENERAL IN NATURE AND IS NOT INTENDED, NOR SHOULD IT BE CONSTRUED, AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS POSTING DOES NOT CREATE ANY ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US. FOR SPECIFIC ADVICE ABOUT YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION, CONSULT A QUALIFIED ATTORNEY.

Posted

I agree with the answers here. If the nurses are willing to attest to his mental condition, absent other evidence as to his mental state, the will is likely to be upheld. But the answer depends on detailed facts we don't have, and in large part on whether anyone is willing to go to the expense of filing a caveat.

Posted

I agree with the answers here. If the nurses are willing to attest to his mental condition, absent other evidence as to his mental state, the will is likely to be upheld. But the answer depends on detailed facts we don't have, and in large part on whether anyone is willing to go to the expense of filing a caveat.