Update on the Law Capacity

By November 12, 2015News
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What is Capacity?

Capacity is the uncomfortable marriage of legal and medical concepts. Medically, doctors and psychologists consider capacity when discussing diseases like Dementia, Alzheimer’s and strokes. The legal world discusses capacity when an attorney evaluates a client’s ability to sign a contract, deed, will or trust. An attorney is looking at someone’s ability to perform a legal action, while the medical community is evaluating the impact on health and daily life.

While attorneys can’t diagnose a person, they are often called upon to make a judgment about a client’s ability to sign a document. This determination may impact the validity of a document and the ability to complete a legal transaction.

For attorneys, the definition of capacity may change depending on what action is being taken. For example someone signing a Will must be able to identify their family, identify what is in their estate, who would be the natural beneficiary of their bounty AND hold all of this together at one time. In a Guardianship, the law may find that one is partially incapacitated or totally without capacity, depending on one’s ability to manage one’s property and care for one’s self.

While the definitions may be straight forward, applying the definition to specific circumstances may be difficult.

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