Client Story

Time and task-specific capacity: will drafted thanks to Private Client Senior Associate

8th May 2024

A senior lady and a business woman discussing documents

There is an assumption that when a person is diagnosed with dementia that they no longer have the capacity to make all decisions. This assumption is incorrect.

Capacity is “time and task specific”. This means that it is possible for an individual to have the capacity to make decision A, but not necessarily have the capacity to make decision B. For example, it may well be possible for someone to have the capacity to decide what they should wear today, but that same person may not have the capacity to manage their complicated financial affairs.

Head of Cheltenham Older and Vulnerable Persons team Lauren McGurk has been the main point of contact for an elderly client called Isabelle for the last seven years. Many years ago, Isabelle put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs appointing this law firm to act for her if she lost capacity to manage her money. Around five years ago, after a diagnosis of dementia, Isabelle became unable to look after her financial affairs. At this time, Lauren and her team stepped up and assisted with the management of Isabelle’s affairs.

Recently, Isabelle asked Lauren to help her change her will, and Lauren was able to successfully help her with this. This is because even though Isabelle did not have capacity to look after her financial affairs on a day to day basis, she did have the capacity to prepare a new will. Again, this is referring back to capacity being “time and task specific”.

To maximise Isabelle’s capacity and ability to make a new will Lauren took steps to make the meeting environment as comfortable as possible for example, the meeting took place at the best time of day for Isabelle and the meeting took place in a familiar location.

Lauren was delighted to be able to help Isabelle get her will in place.

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