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How Can You Tell Whether Seniors Are Capable Of Understanding Their Own Decisions?

SeniorIncapacity

Much of estate planning is an effort to avoid the things you fear, and one of the scariest parts of aging is losing the ability to make sound decisions or, even worse, knowing full well the implications of your decisions but having a court decide that you have lost your legal status as an independent adult and authorizing someone else to make decisions about your finances and healthcare, decisions that you no longer have the legal authority to override.  The Florida courts have ruled on bitter disputes about the guardianship of vulnerable seniors; sometimes these disputes continue even after the elderly person dies, and then the probate court must rule on them.  The best way to avoid a years-long battle over whether you have the right to trust the people you trust or to spend the money you spend, or even the right to die on your own terms, is to contact an Orlando guardianship lawyer now, while you are still healthy.

How the Interview for Decisional Abilities Can Simplify Guardianship Law

Poor financial decisions are often an early sign of cognitive impairment in elderly people, either because the person does not understand the potentially deleterious consequences of their financial decisions or because they are easily manipulated into making financial transactions that are against their interest.  Of course, “poor financial decision” is a subjective measure.  If your mother is more generous with your brother than with you, is it financial abuse, or is she simply exercising your right to play favorites?  If, ever since being widowed, Grandma only wants to eat strudel, is it self-neglect, or is she simply borrowing a page from the playbook of President George H. Bush, who decided that, as he was a septuagenarian, no one had the right to override his decision to refuse to eat broccoli?

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have developed the Interview for Decisional Abilities.  Adult Protective Services workers in several states have adopted it for investigations into reports of financial abuse, neglect, and self-neglect of seniors.  The case worker interviews the elderly person about decisions they have made and what they predict that the consequences of those decisions will be.  If the elderly person’s responses in the interview raise the case worker’s suspicions that the elderly person is suffering from dementia or abuse, the case worker refers the person for evaluation by a psychiatrist or geriatrician.  One purpose of the interview is to identify seniors whose decision-making ability is sound and to refer only the ones who truly need further evaluation, thus protecting seniors who are capable of caring for themselves from being placed under guardianship against their will.

Contact Gierach and Gierach About Preventing and Resolving Guardianship Disputes

A guardianship lawyer can help you plan for entrusting decisions about your care to someone you truly trust and maintaining your independence for as long as possible.  Contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.

Sources:

nytimes.com/2022/05/09/health/ida-elderly-help.html

blogs.bmj.com/medical-humanities/2021/06/15/the-cornell-penn-interview-for-decisional-abilities-a-tool-to-assess-the-decisional-ability-of-older-adult-victims-of-abuse-or-neglect/

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