Capacity to Care for Self
The capacity to care for self is the ability to satisfy the requirements for physical health, safety, and self-care without assistance. In this evaluation, the person’s skills relevant to independent living, known as activities of daily living (ADLs), are assessed. The results of this evaluation can be helpful in assessing a person’s ability for self care, their ability to manage personal property and personal affairs, and in making recommendations regarding the most appropriate living situation. This evaluation generally includes clinical interviewing, collateral reports, and objective testing measures.
Cognitive and neuropsychological screenings are evaluations designed to assess an individual in areas related to intellectual/cognitive functioning; such as, memory, attention, judgment in decision-making, executive functioning, and language. This type of evaluation generally includes clinical interviews, review of medical and/or psychological records, and neurocognitive screening and/or other psychological testing.
Commonly termed Sorensen Evaluation, this evaluation determines an individual’s competency to proceed in a domestic case and addresses the question of the need for a court-appointed guardian ad litem. The individual’s ability to understand the case proceedings and to act and make critical decisions in his or her best interests will be evaluated. In some instances, cognitive problems or mental health symptoms may impair the individual’s ability to proceed.
The court may appoint a conservator with defined and specified responsibilities in relation to the estate or financial affairs of any individual, regardless of age, who is unable to manage their own financial and business affairs. A conservator may also be appointed if the individual has property that will be unnecessarily dissipated or wasted unless management is provided. Additionally, the court may appoint a conservator if money is needed for the support, care, education, health, and welfare of the individual. An attorney requesting a Self-Care, Decisional, Contractual or Testamentary evaluation, may request that this recommendation be considered in the report.
When a will is disputed, typically after the testator is deceased, an evaluation similar to that of Testamentary Capacity is conducted. The focus is on the mental and physical state of the individual when they executed the will. This is accomplished by reviewing pertinent documents such as medical records and documents relevant to the testator’s mental status. In addition, relevant parties will be interviewed to assist in drawing a conclusion about the testator's capacity at the time the will was created.
Evaluating Contractual Capacity is similar to evaluating Testamentary Capacity. In these situations, the individual’s ability to understand the terms and consequences of the contract in question is assessed. The person will be evaluated to determine if they are “of sound mind” and free of undue influence.
Decisional Capacity is the ability of an individual to provide informed consent to, or refusal of, medical treatment, or the ability to make an informed health-care- benefit decision. When an individual lacks Decisional Capacity, an agent authorized under a medical power of attorney is empowered to make medical decisions on their behalf. This evaluation generally includes clinical interviewing, collateral reports, and objective testing measures.
A court may appoint a guardian for an individual who is deemed “Incapacitated” under the Colorado Revised Statutes, and unable to manage his or her affairs with regard to property, finances, and daily affairs. An evaluation to determine if a guardian is needed must include interviews and psychological/competency testing with the client in their current residence, and a review of pertinent medical and legal records.
Testamentary Capacity pertains to an individual’s ability to draft a will. As a result of mental decline, serious injury, undue influence, or other confounding circumstances, an individual may no longer be considered competent to create a will. An evaluation of Testamentary Capacity includes an assessment of the individual’s mental and physical health, their understanding of their expressed intentions, and the conclusion that they are not under the influence of third parties.
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