Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law
Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo  Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo
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When are you deemed unable to make your own decisions?

An important part of estate planning in Woodland Hills is making decisions surrounding your end-of-life care. Accidents, disease, or the effects of advancing age could place you in the position of being unable to make rational decisions regarding your own care. At what point are you considered to be unable to make sound choices for yourself? The answer to that question may be open to interpretation. What some may see as incapable of logical thought, others may view as slow and uninformed. Fortunately, the California Probate Code leaves little room to speculate on this matter.

Many attribute an inability to make good decisions to a physical or mental disorder. However, the law states that the mere presence of such a diagnosis does not mean that you are unable to think and act for yourself. It goes on to say that in order for the court to consider you as being incapable of sound decision making, you must first display a deficit in any of the following mental functions:

  •          Alertness and attention
  •          Information processing
  •          Thought processing
  •          Your ability to control your mood

Again, simply having displayed a deficit in any of these areas will not automatically lead to your being determined incompetent. The court will instead review the frequency at which you may display such deficits, as well as whether or not they truly affect your level of comprehension.

In making this determination, the court will consider whether you appreciate the duties you assume by making a decision, the consequences that it may have for others, and the risks associated with it. You being able to communicate your understanding may play a major role in the court’s decision. You may, however, take that future decision out of their hands entirely by outlining your wishes in your estate planning documents today. 

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