Capacity Evaluations

Our providers may be retained by attorneys and individuals/families to perform capacity evaluations. In addition to our expertise in clinical neuropsychology, we have received specialized training and experience in the assessment of diminished capacity and the role of neuropsychology in these legal matters.

What is a Capacity Evaluation?

The term capacity refers to an individual’s cognitive and practical abilities to complete a specific task (e.g., execute a will, manage their finances) or make a specific decision (e.g., refuse a recommended medical treatment, make safe decisions for the benefit of their well-being).  In the legal setting, a neuropsychologist may be retained by an attorney, the court or family member to assist in the determination of capacity of a person, as raised in the context of a guardianship/conservatorship hearing or will dispute.  Family members may opt to have a capacity evaluation completed in order to ensure that their loved one is capable of making decisions about their healthcare, finances, living situation and to protect their loved one’s assets and guarantee that their preferences are carried out.
In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the assessment of capacity of older adults. This is due to a variety of factors, including the simple fact that the general population is aging as adults live longer. Additionally, there is an unfortunate rise in the prevalence of dementia (which poses questions related to capacity). There also has been increased attention on the prevalence of elder abuse and financial exploitation. Finally, families are increasingly living at a geographical distance, and gradual changes in cognitive functioning are not always apparent.  A comprehensive capacity evaluation by a clinical neuropsychologist is recognized by the court as the gold standard of protection.

How does a Capacity Evaluation differ from a Medical Evaluation?

A medical evaluation is born out of medical necessity and the information obtained is shared with other healthcare providers in order to guide treatment. A capacity evaluation, in contrast, is being done for the express purpose of establishing the capacity of the patient. Therefore, it is unlawful for health insurance to be accepted as payment for a capacity evaluation.  Fees are determined by the complexity of the individual case. Contact us for more information.

A no-cost 15-minute general or case consultation is offered to determine the appropriateness of capacity evaluation for each individual case.

Note: We do not provide child custody or parental competence evaluations.