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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2012 Dec;35(4):915-27. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2012.08.011. Epub 2012 Oct 4.

Testamentary capacity and guardianship assessments.

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Division of Psychiatry and the Law, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Davis Medical Center, 2230 Stockton Boulevard, 2nd Floor, Suite 210, TICON II, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.


This article discusses the ever-increasing opportunity for forensic mental health evaluators to provide assistance to the legal system in the areas of testamentary capacity and guardianship assessments. These areas of evaluation are defined, and a discussion of preparation and execution of effective evaluations is provided. The legal concepts of undue influence and insane delusion are defined and applied to the evaluator's interview. Common cognitive concerns such as dementia and delirium may affect an evaluee's capacity, and their presence and effect on the evaluee are considered. Evaluators are encouraged to carefully consider specific capacities related to the relevant legal questions posed.

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