Last Will and Testament: Forensic Psychiatry’s Last Frontier?

The Psychiatrist’s Role in Will Contests
  • Robert Lloyd Goldstein
Part of the Critical Issues in American Psychiatry and the Law book series (CIAP, volume 2)


A will is a legal instrument that is executed in accordance with certain formalities, by which a person directs the disposition of his property to take effect following his death. The principal distinction between a will and other types of conveyances (i.e., transfers of title to property) is that a will takes effect only on the death of the maker of the will. In order to protect all persons involved, the law surrounds the making of a will with certain specified formalities, which may vary from state to state depending on local statutory schemes. Each state has its own laws dealing with the right* to make testamentary disposition of one’s property (although a number of states have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, which simplifies the requirements and procedures). The person who makes a will is the testator (testatrix in the case of a woman). A will contest is a probate proceeding (probate means literally prove; a probate proceeding seeks to prove the will of the deceased).


Probate Proceeding Legal Instrument Undue Influence Mental Deficiency Forensic Psychiatry 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Lloyd Goldstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, The College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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