I had the pleasure of attending a very interesting presentation on ‘Legal Capacity Assessment Panel Discussion & Technology Demonstration’ that may very well change the face of estate litigation by addressing the question of whether the individual was capable at the time of signing legal documents. I am involved in many situations where there has been a dispute questioning the older person’s capacity at the time of appointing an attorney for personal care or property. Many times I see siblings disputing whether monies should be spent on their parent’s care needs and if so, how much and/or where their parent should be living. Fortunately for me, my work focuses on the functional living needs of the older individual so I am not directly impacted by these POA disputes- except to provide an objective opinion on what they need, what care costs and where it can best be provided.
Cambridge Brain Sciences has created ‘a simple and convenient cognitive assessment tool built for lawyers to administer to their clients’ at the time of signing documents. Their on line tool measures three main elements of brain function including reasoning, short- term memory and verbal ability. The ‘test’ doesn’t feel like a test at all and is a series of pictures that one is able to respond to. It takes 10 minutes and they indicate it is a scientifically-valid test that provides an accurate picture of one’s brain health. The scores are then compared to their database results with 75,000 users. While it does not state whether someone is capable or not, it does provide a normative rating comparison that indicates whether the score is ‘indicative of a level of executive function required for capacity.’
The visual on screen ‘tests’ are fun and easy to navigate. Some of the tests require solid language skills and the instructions need to be explained by the person administering it. It will be very interesting to see what happens when the results are submitted to court and how the findings will be interpreted and whether they can validate someone’s brain function to determine if their score was indicative of a level required for capacity or not. Try it out! The product is still in beta testing.