Sometimes, a guardianship is necessary for an older adult. If you are considering this route for your loved one, it’s important to know how the court can determine mental incapacity.
How can you request a mental capacity assessment?
If you have a loved one you believe needs a guardianship because they can no longer manage their own affairs, you will have to file a petition with the court for a mental capacity assessment. This is necessary to determine whether the individual is able to make their own decisions on their health, finances and other important matters.
How does the court determine mental capacity?
To determine a person’s mental capacity, the court appoints a team of doctors, nurses, psychologists and sometimes, social workers to evaluate them. An attorney for the individual being evaluated is appointed by the court or by the person who filed the petition.
The team meets with the individual to examine them. This may be done separately and as a team so that each health care professional involved can make their own assessment about the person’s mental capacity. They also make a written report about the individual and file it with the court. Afterward, the attorney meets with the individual to explain the petition and court proceedings.
The hearing occurs to make the case of whether the person needs a guardian to manage their affairs. The person doesn’t have to be present at this proceeding.
Although health care professionals are brought in by the court to make their assessment, ultimately, it’s the court that makes the decision on whether the individual is mentally incapacitated and could benefit from a guardianship. The judge will consider all the assessments and make their ruling.
A guardianship might be the best thing for your loved one if they are found to be mentally incapacitated.