What Does 'Capacity' Mean?

Do you have a family member who is becoming more forgetful and confused as his or her health declines? As people age, it is normal to experience some level of reduced mental abilities. However, others who no longer have the ability to make or communicate decisions or to care for themselves without assistance may benefit from the appointment of a guardian or conservator if they do not have a Durable Power of Attorney or Healthcare Power of Attorney in place.

A guardianship or conservatorship proceeding is used to legally appoint someone with the authority to make personal, medical or financial decisions for another who has become incapacitated. At The Elder & Disability Law Center, we help individuals and families throughout the Washington, D.C., area navigate their way through this complicated and often emotional process.

What Is Capacity?

Just because a person is developmentally delayed, cognitively impaired or suffers from a mental illness, it does not automatically mean that he or she lacks "capacity." If you wish to act as a guardian or conservator for a loved one, you will need to prove that he or she is incapacitated according to the laws of that state.

Upon filing a petition for appointment, the court looks at a number of factors to determine if a guardian or conservator is needed. Depending on state law, these factors may include the person's inability to:

  • Appreciate the nature and implications of a health care decision
  • Communicate decisions
  • Maintain a safe environment
  • Dress, eat, bathe or move around
  • Control bladder or bowel functions
  • Provide support for legal dependents
  • Plan or manage long-term care
  • Manage medications
  • Pay bills

Once it is decided that a person is incapacitated, the court will then determine the extent of help that is needed from the guardian or conservator. We will help you present evidence and guide your family and the court to the best decisions for you and your family member.

Questions? Call Today For Answers.

The attorneys at The Elder & Disability Law Center have extensive experience and apply a comprehensive evaluation protocol to address your needs when you have a loved one who is living with a disability or who is incapacitated. To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers, send us an email or call our Washington, D.C., office at 202-452-0000 or toll free at 866-399-4324.