Legal Capacity

Dr. Jason Karlawish, a leading researcher regarding capacity, states: “The term capacity is distinct from the term competency. Competency describes a legal judgment. That is, only a judge can declare a person noncompetent. In contrast, a physician judges whether someone has sufficient capacity to make a decision. The distinction made here is based solely on who is making the judgment and the role society assigns that person. … In sum, the terms competency and capacity distinguish between legal and medical judgments, but their outcomes are the same: a person can no longer choose for himself.” See J. Karlawish, Measuring Decision-Making capacity in Cognitively Impaired Individuals, Neurosignals, 2008, 16: 91-98 (December 15, 2007). Dr. Karlawish’s observations are consistent with Georgia law with one exception – courts routinely use the word “capacity” rather than “competency.”

In the context of medical decisions, an “inability of any adult to consent for himself or herself” means a determination in the medical record by a licensed physician after the physician has personally examined the adult and the adult “lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make significant responsible decisions” regarding his or her medical treatment or the ability to communicate by any means such decisions. O.C.G.A. § 31-9-2(c). Individuals are presumed to have capacity to make all other decisions unless they have been adjudicated by a Probate Court as lacking capacity. Probate Courts must use the following standards: (1) for personal decisions, the Court may appoint a Guardian “only if the court finds the adult lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions concerning his or her health or safety,” O.C.G.A. § 29-4-1(a); and (2) for financial decisions, the Court may appoint a conservator only if the court finds the adult lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions concerning the management of his or her property.” O.C.G.A. § 29-5-1(a)

The starting point in determining what can be done and what needs to be done is determining whether a proposed client has legal capacity. In other words, can the proposed client make his or her own personal and financial decisions? [O.C.G.A. § 29-4-1(a) and O.C.G.A.§ 29-5-1(a)]. If the answer is yes, then the individual is in charge of his or her own decisions regarding legal matters. It does not matter whether others agree with the individual’s decisions; the question is whether the individual can make decisions. Paternalism is not a valid basis for overriding an individual’s decision-making process. Paternalistic terms used to describe incapacity include:

  • Alienation
  • Amentia
  • Anoea (extinction of the imagination and judgment)
  • Dotage or `second childhood’
  • Fatuitas (silliness)
  • Foolishness
  • Idiocy
  • Imbecility
  • Insanity
  • Lethargy
  • Morosis
  • Organic brain syndrome (DSM I and II)
  • Phrenesis
  • Senile dementia
  • Senile psychosis
  • Senility
  • Simplicity
  • Stupidity

Capacity is fluid and is a continuum. It is a fluid concept. An individual might have capacity at certain times, but not others. The law recognizes that individuals may have lucid intervals and, thus, might be able to engage in transactions during that lucid interval. Further, capacity is not an all or nothing proposition; a diagnosis of dementia does not mean an individual lacks capacity. An individual with compromised capacity may still have limited capacity. In other words, an individual might have capacity to execute a Will, power of attorney or health care advance directive, but might not have capacity to engage in a complex business or real estate transaction. Ultimately, the capacity continuum is evaluated using four factors:

  1. Understanding – the ability to comprehend the meaning of information
  2. Appreciation – the ability to recognize how information applies to a person
  3. Reasoning – the ability to compare options and infer consequences
  4. Choice – the ability to make a decision

Further, capacity is task specific, not global. Capacity can fluctuate. Capacity is situational. Capacity is contextual.

Another issue that must be considered when decision-making capacity is impaired is its cause. Some impairments are temporary and are treatable. Examples include urinary tract infections, delirium, dehydration, malnutrition, traumatic brain injury and poor oral health.

The legal requirements for capacity differ depending on the contemplated transaction. Testamentary capacity (to prepare a Will or a trust disposing of assets at death) requires the Will-maker to know the general objects of his or her bounty, to understand the nature and extent of his or her property, and to inter-relate those elements sufficiently to dispose of the property. Donative capacity (power to make a gift), requires an understanding of the nature and purpose of the gift, an understanding of the nature and extent of property to be given, a knowledge of the natural objects of the donor’s bounty, and an understanding of the nature and effect of the gift. Contractual capacity is the ability to understand the nature and effect of the act and the business being transacted.  is the ability to understand the general nature of the health care procedure being consented to or refused, as determined by the declarant’s attending physician based on such physician’s good faith judgment.”

If the individual has capacity, then he (or she) is the boss. He or she can fire an agent at any time. Even if the individual lacks capacity, it does not mean the individual’s choices and values become meaningless. If a fiduciary is planning with an individual’s resources, the fiduciary has a duty to use those resources for the individual, or to dispose of them in a manner consistent with the individual’s wishes. As discussed elsewhere in this paper, if an individual expresses his or her health care values, then a health agent has a duty to make decisions consistent with the patient’s values. If an individual designates someone to serve as guardian or conservator, then a probate court is required to consider the nominated individual for that position.

Age: For most purposes, a Georgia resident does not have legal capacity to enter into a binding agreement prior to age 18. However, in Georgia, you can make a Will at age 14. [O.C.G.A. § 53-4-10]

Testamentary capacity: Testamentary capacity exists when the testator has a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of property. In Griffin v. Barrett, 183 Ga. 152 (1936), the Georgia Supreme Court said: “Eccentricity of habit or thought does not deprive a person of the power of making a will; old age and weakness of intellect resulting therefrom does not, of itself, constitute incapacity. If that weakness amounts to imbecility, the testamentary capacity is gone. In cases of doubt as to the extent of this weakness, the reasonable or unreasonable disposition of his estate should have much weight in the decision of the question. A person has testamentary capacity who understands the nature of a testament or will, viz., that it is a disposition of property to take effect after death, and who is capable of remembering generally the property subject to disposition and the persons related to him by the ties of blood and affection, and also of conceiving and expressing by words, written or spoken, or by signs, or by both, any intelligible scheme of disposition. If the testator has sufficient intellect to enable him to have a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of his property, this will suffice.” The Court went on to say “The condition of the testator’s mind at the time of the execution of the will determines whether or not he can make a valid will.”

An incapacity to contract may coexist with the capacity to make a will. An insane individual generally may not make a will except during a lucid interval. A monomaniac may make a will if the will is in no way connected with the monomania. In all such cases, it must appear that the will expresses the wishes of the testator unbiased by the insanity or monomania with which the testator is affected. Neither advancing age nor weakness of intellect nor eccentricity of habit or thought is inconsistent with the capacity to make a will. A will must be freely and voluntarily executed. A will is not valid if anything destroys the testator’s freedom of volition, such as fraudulent practices upon the testator’s fears, affections, or sympathies; misrepresentation; duress; or undue influence whereby the will of another is substituted for the wishes of the testator.

Amerson v. Pahl (2012)

In Amerson v. Pahl, 292 Ga. 79 (2012), the Supreme Court affirmed a probate court’s non-jury finding that a testator possessed testamentary capacity and that his Will was not the product of undue influence. William Jackson Dunaway executed his Last Will and Testament in February 2010, leaving his entire estate to his only sister, Virginia Pahl. Reva Viola Amerson, a longtime close friend of Dunaway, filed a caveat challenging the validity of the will and claiming that an earlier will executed by Dunaway in 1994 remained in effect. Amerson appealed after the probate court rejected her argument, finding that the 2010 Will was valid.

Evidence presented:

      1. Dunaway had some dementia at the time the Will was executed.
      2. Pahl was Dunaway’s closest living relative.
      3. Apparently Dunaway’s pastor was involved in creation of the Will.
      4. The drafting attorney testified as did one of the witnesses and the attorney who notarized the Will. Their testimony supported the conclusion that, at the time the will was executed, Dunaway understood the consequences of his actions in executing the will, despite the fact that he suffered from some level of dementia.
      5. Specifically, these witnesses affirmed that Dunaway understood that he was making a will; knew that his will would dispose of his goat farm and other property after his death; and intended that his only sister, who lived on his property and with whom he had a close relationship, would inherit such property.

Legal reasoning:

Because the power to make a will is a valuable right, a stringent standard must be met to set aside a will and thereby deprive the maker of that right. Holland v. Holland, 277 Ga. 792 (4) (596 SE2d 123) (2004) (reversing judgment on verdict denying probate where “stringent standard” not satisfied). Where a probate court’s findings in a non-jury trial are supported by any evidence, this Court is bound to affirm them on appeal. Tuttle v. Ryan, 282 Ga. 652 (653 SE2d 50) (2007). The Court found that the witnesses’ testimony also supported a finding that the Will was freely and voluntarily executed.

A testator possesses testamentary capacity so long as he understands that he is executing a document that will dispose of his property after death, is capable of remembering the property that is subject to his disposition and the persons related to him by blood and affection, and has sufficient intellect to enable him to have a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of his property. Prine v. Blanton, 290 Ga. 307, 308 (1) (720 SE2d 600) (2012) (citations and punctuation omitted); see OCGA § 53-4-11 (a). The maker’s testamentary capacity is assessed at the time the will is executed. Prine, 290 Ga. at 308 (1).

To invalidate a will, undue influence must amount to deception or coercion that destroys the testator’s free agency.” Prine, 290 Ga. at 310 (2). The fact that Virginia Pahl was Dunaway’s closest living relative, the fact that she facilitated Dunaway’s making of the will under which she was the sole beneficiary does not by itself establish that she exercised undue influence. See Holland, 277 Ga. at 793 (2) (reversing finding of undue influence where evidence showed merely that primary beneficiary, who was testator’s son, had opportunity to influence will). Likewise, the pastor’s involvement did not prove undue influence.

Prine v. Blanton (2012)

In Prine v. Blanton, 290 Ga. 307 (2012), the Supreme Court affirmed findings of the courts below that a testator possessed testamentary capacity and that his Will was valid. The probate court ruled for the estate after a bench trial and, on appeal to the Superior Court, summary judgment was granted in favor of the estate.

Melvin H. Blanton’s 1990 will and family trust divided his estate equally among four children and one grandchild. In 2008, he instructed his attorney to revise his Will to exclude his daughter, Debra Prine. Before the new Will was executed, on September 17, 2008, Blanton was admitted to the hospital. While in the hospital, he executed his new Will and a second amendment to his trust. The following day he was admitted to intensive care. He was discharged three weeks later and died in February 2009.

Evidence presented:

      1. Propounders presented the affidavit of the attorney who drafted and witnessed the will stating that Blanton was of a sufficient sound and disposing mind and memory at the time he instructed the attorney on how to prepare the will and at the time he executed it.
      2. The other subscribing witness and the notary public who executed the self-proving affidavit attached to the will also verified that Blanton knew he was signing his last will and testament and he appeared to be of sound and disposing mind and memory at the time.
      3. Blanton’s treating physician testified in a deposition that during office visits in 2008 Blanton was “sharp as a tack,” showing no symptoms of mental instability, confusion, dementia, hallucinations, or declining mental condition.
      4. Blanton’s was admitted to the hospital for abdominal pain and fever on September 15, 2008.
      5. Blanton executed his new Will and trust amendment on September 17, 2008 while still in the hospital.
      6. Blanton’s physician testified that Blanton was his usual self on the morning the will was executed, his condition was improving, and his medications would not have affected his mental ability.
      7. The following morning, on September 18, 2008, Blanton’s physician found that Blanton had declined sharply and referred him to a specialist for a neurology consultation and admitted him into the hospital’s intensive care unit.
      8. Caveator relied on the medical records and findings of the neurologist from his examination of the testator the day after the will was executed, attempting to use the hearsay exception in OCGA § 24-3-18 (now OCGA § 24-8-826). See Admitting Medical Records in Probate Court as an Exception to the Hearsay Rule.
      9. Caveator presented affidavits from four lay witnesses who did not see Blanton until after he was admitted into intensive care or were vague about when they saw him.
      10. Caveator’s own testimony was that she did not see her father until after work on the day he signed the Will, he knew who she was at the time and she had no knowledge of his mental condition earlier in the day.
      11. Blanton’s attorney and the subscribing witnesses attested that they believed he signed his will freely and voluntarily.
      12. His treating physician and other witnesses described the testator as strong-willed, stubborn, opinionated, and not susceptible to influence.
      13. There was no evidence that propounders exerted any power or control over Blanton, coerced him into signing the will, or prevented the caveator and others from visiting him in the hospital or at his home.

Legal reasoning:

On appeal from the grant of summary judgment, this Court construes the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion to determine whether the record shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. OCGA § 9-11-56; Campbell v. The Landings Assn., Inc., 289 Ga. 617, 618 (713 SE2d 860) (2011). The court concluded that “[c]onstruing the evidence in this case in the light most favorable to the caveator, she has not presented a genuine issue of material fact that the testator lacked the requisite mental capacity when he signed his will. The Court also found that caveator had not presented a genuine issue of material fact on the question of undue influence.

A testator possesses the mental capacity to make a will if he understands that he is executing a document that will dispose of his property after death, is capable of remembering the property that is subject to his disposition and the persons related to him by blood and affection, and “‘has sufficient intellect to enable him to have a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of his property.'” Spivey v. Spivey, 202 Ga. 644, 651 (2) (44 SE2d 224) (1947) (Citation omitted.). “[T]he controlling question . . . is whether the testator had sufficient testamentary capacity at the time of executing the will.” Id. at 652. Evidence that the testator was aged, ill, and in pain when he executed his will or that his medical condition deteriorated while he was in the hospital does not show lack of testamentary capacity to make a will. Compare Strong v. Holden, 287 Ga. 482, 484 (1) (697 SE2d 189) (2010) (upholding grant of summary judgment to propounders because evidence showed testator had requisite capacity two days before she died despite being elderly, hospitalized, physically weak, and taking prescribed medications) with Kievman v. Kievman, 260 Ga. 853, 854 (1) (400 SE2d 317) (1991) (reversing grant of summary judgment to propounders based on daughter’s affidavit that testator was ill, heavily medicated, and incoherent before the will was executed, the day he executed it, and for some days after its execution).

In a will case, the propounder establishes a prima facie showing of testamentary capacity “by offering testimony of the subscribing witnesses that the testator appeared to be of sound mind and that he acted freely and voluntarily when he executed his will.” Ashford v. Van Horne, 276 Ga. 636, 637 (1) (580 SE2d 201) (2003). To avoid summary judgment, the caveator must then show that a genuine issue of material fact remains on the question of testamentary capacity. See McGee v. Ingram, 264 Ga. 649, 651 (2) (448 SE2d 439) (1994).

To invalidate a will, undue influence must amount to deception or coercion that destroys the testator’s free agency. Bohler v. Hicks, 120 Ga. 800, 809 (6) (48 SE 306) (1904). The improper influence must operate on the testator’s mind at the time the will is executed. Boland v. Aycock, 191 Ga. 327, 329 (12 SE2d 319) (1940). The testator’s choice of naming one relative instead of another as the favored beneficiary is an insufficient reason to deny probate of the will. Cornelius v. Crosby, 243 Ga. 26, 28 (5) (252 SE2d 455) (1979).

Meadows v. Beam (2017)

In the rather bizarre case of Meadows v. Beam, 302 Ga. 494 (2017), the Georgia Supreme Court reversed a jury verdict where the jury found that decedent Dorothy Rita Beam lacked testamentary capacity to execute a will and codicil. Appellant argued there was insufficient evidence for a jury to find decedent lacked capacity and the Supreme Court agreed.

The Standard applied by the Court:

While the focus is on the testator’s capacity at the time a will is executed, “evidence of testator’s condition before and after the execution of the will may be relevant for this purpose.”

Whether the evidence is legally sufficient to support a jury’s finding is a question of law. See Lockwood v. Daniel, 194 Ga. 544, 548 (22 SE2d 85) (1942). And in reviewing this question in the context of a challenge to a will, a stringent standard must be met in order to set aside a will, as this deprives a person of the valuable right to make a will. Holland v. Holland, 277 Ga. 792, 795 (4) (596 SE2d 123) (2004). Thus, there must be some evidence to support the jury’s finding that this stringent standard was met.

Under Georgia law, “[t]estamentary capacity exists when the testator has a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of property.” OCGA § 53-4-11 (a). A showing of testamentary capacity requires a showing that the testator was sane or of sound mind. See, e.g., Evans v. Arnold, 52 Ga. 169, 181 (1874) (“[I]f the testator appear[s] to be aware of what he is doing, and acts as sane men do, I am of the opinion that a prima facie case is made out, at least that a verdict for the will would be justified[.]”). We have explained that this requirement is fulfilled with a showing that the testator “understood that the will had the effect of disposing of her property at the time of her death, was capable of remembering generally what property was subject to disposition by will, was capable of remembering those persons related to her, and was capable of expressing an intelligent scheme of disposition.” Odom v. Hughes, 293 Ga. 447, 454 (748 SE2d 839) (2013) (citation and punctuation omitted). This is a modest requirement, as “testamentary capacity may be possessed by weak-minded or feeble individuals. And anything less than a total absence of mind does not destroy testamentary capacity.” Patterson-Fowlkes, 291 Ga. at 602 (citations and punctuation omitted); see also OCGA § 53-4-11 (d).

A person who is not sane does not have the capacity to make a will, except during a lucid interval. OCGA § 53-4-11 (c). A person who is partially insane, a condition known as monomania, may make a will if the will “is in no way connected with the monomania.” Id.; see also Boney v. Boney, 265 Ga. 839, 840 (1) (462 SE2d 725) (1995). To set aside a will based on an unsound mind, it must be shown that the testator was insane or, if partially so, that the will was connected with that partial insanity. OCGA § 53-4-11 (c); see also Nodvin v. Arogeti, 277 Ga. 602, 602 (1) (592 SE2d 846) (2004); Powell v. Thigpen, 230 Ga. 760, 760-761 (2) (199 SE2d 251) (1973).

In footnote three the Court stated: We have defined an insane delusion as existing wherever a person conceives something extravagant to exist which has no existence whatever, and [s]he is incapable of being permanently reasoned out of that conception. The subject-matter of the insane delusion must have no foundation in fact, and must spring from a diseased condition of mind. Boney, 265 Ga. at 840 (citations and punctuation omitted).

The Will in question was executed in April 2014, naming Marian as executor and devising property to Dorothy’s children except to John, with a majority of her estate going to Marian. In the 2014 will, as amended by a July 2014 codicil. Marian argued the Will was valid, while siblings John, Margaret and Jayne opposed it.

Evidence presented at trial:

    1. Decedent suffered from many medical problems, including arthritis, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and hypertension. In September 2013, Decedent, then 90 years old, was admitted into a hospital and exhibited confusion and forgetfulness during her hospitalization.
    2. Before her hospitalization, Decedent began to express certain beliefs that Caveators found strange. She said that she had been offered a job with the West Lumber Company, but she had stopped working there many years earlier. Decedent continued to make this assertion through 2014.
    3. In August 2013, Decedent also claimed she was offered a job at a Kroger grocery store where she and her husband played bingo, but her husband was dead and bingo was no longer played at the Kroger store.
    4. Following her September 2013 hospitalization and during her short stay at a rehabilitation facility in October 2013, Decedent asked Jayne to do some cleaning at Decedent’s house and to donate some of Decedent’s belongings to charity. Jayne explained that many items were already marked for donation and she identified additional items of clothing that could be donated. Before Jayne donated clothing that was not already marked, Jayne brought the clothing to Decedent for her approval. Jayne also reorganized her mother’s house to make it safer upon Decedent’s return from the rehabilitation center, explaining to Decedent where she moved things. Later, Decedent accused Jayne of stealing her clothes and also removing documents from her house without permission.
    5. Decedent came to believe that her son John stole originals of her certificates of deposit and attempted to withdraw the money. In March 2014, as a result of her belief that John was stealing from her and mismanaging her funds, Decedent revoked John’s power of attorney that she executed in 2004, asked him to return several estate documents, and questioned why the hospital asked for Decedent’s 2004 will. John testified that he accessed a safe deposit box while Decedent was hospitalized because the hospital requested the executed power of attorney and her living will (which were in the same envelope as her will), and that he did not know where the original certificates were located and never touched them. John asked his mother about the certificates and why she believed he took them, but she could not answer any of his questions.
    6. In March 2014, Decedent told people that H&R Block offered her a job because she did a “good job” preparing her own taxes that year, but her taxes actually had been prepared by a third party.
    7. Decedent also believed she broke her ankle by tripping over an extension cord at her church, but her family testified that the incident did not happen and her family doctor had no record of it either.
    8. Around this time, Decedent told Jayne that a nurse had visited her house to draw blood in preparation for an upcoming gallbladder surgery and that an ambulance would pick her up for the surgery and bring her back home afterward, but her family doctor had no history of the surgery.
    9. Also in 2014, Decedent began complaining about her sister-in-law, called her names, and blamed her for causing Decedent’s medical problems, but Decedent’s sister-in-law had been dead for over 15 years.
    10. Decedent also asked Jayne to move back home to finish her college degree even though Jayne had obtained her degree about 40 years prior.
    11. Beginning in April 2014, Decedent sometimes would become confused in phone conversations with Margaret, asking who she was and confusing her for Jayne even though Margaret had previously identified herself.
    12. Decedent’s sister, Norma Aballo, with whom she was very close, stated that when she visited Decedent in November 2013, Decedent was showing signs of confusion and memory failure.
    13. Sometime after March 2014, Decedent told Aballo that she was going to sell her house in Georgia and move to North Carolina with Marian because she had no family or friends in Georgia.
    14. Decedent also told her daughter Margaret that she had no family in Georgia. Aballo also testified that, around this time,
    15. Decedent was not acting rationally and began to accuse Caveators of stealing things from her and began to isolate Caveators, which surprised Aballo because Caveators had been the ones who had done everything for Decedent.
    16. Aballo said that Decedent had become a different person because of her behavior, memory loss, and confusion.
    17. Decedent had previously executed a will in 2004 in which she devised her property to her four children in equal shares. Shortly after signing the codicil in July 2014, Decedent died.
    18. Caveators introduced the testimony of Dr. Matthew Norman, a board-certified forensic psychiatrist, to the effect that he reviewed Decedent’s medical records, various depositions, affidavits from people that knew her, and other material in the case. Based on this review, Dr. Norman opined that Decedent had a “potentially” weakened state of mind, lacked testamentary capacity in that she was operating under a “fixed false belief” that Caveators were stealing from her, and was unduly influenced into executing the 2014 will and codicil.

Against this backdrop of decidedly irrational behavior, the Georgia Supreme Court found this evidence was legally insufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict. In footnote four the Court stated that the evidence does not establish that Decedent’s will was affected by any insane delusions. Decedent’s false beliefs about employment offers or injuries had nothing to do with her will. Although her false belief that Caveators were stealing from her and mismanaging her finances angered Decedent and caused her to execute a new will in 2014, the evidence shows that Decedent came to this belief based on false information Marian provided. That Decedent may have been duped by Marian does not establish that her mind was unsound. See Brumbelow v. Hopkins, 197 Ga. 247, 250 (1) (29 SE2d 42) (1944); see also Boney, 265 Ga. at 840 (1) (“An insane delusion does not mean a mistaken conclusion from a given state of facts, nor a mistaken belief as to the existence of facts.” (citation and punctuation omitted)). Caveators’ allegations that Marian was a bad actor and caused strife among her family such that Decedent changed her will are beside the point; the claims predicated upon those allegations were rejected by the jury and are not on appeal here.

Of note, Caveators accepted that Decedent’s 2014 will and codicil were “self-proved,” as they contained affidavits complying with OCGA § 53-4-24. As a result, Caveators admitted that a presumption existed that the will and codicil were executed with the requisite testamentary formalities, including that they were executed by a person apparently with sufficient mental capacity to do so, and they had a burden to rebut this presumption. See Reeves v. Webb, 297 Ga. 405, 408- 409 (774 SE2d 641) (2015); see also Skelton v. Skelton, 251 Ga. 631, 632 (2) (308 SE2d 838) (1983). Caveators failed to introduce evidence from which the jury could have concluded that this burden was carried.

Comment: Reeves v. Webb, 297 Ga. 405 (2015) did not create the presumption described in Meadows that a self-proved Will was executed by someone of sound mind. Under a prior decision, Spivey v. Spivey, 202 Ga. 644 (1947), [t]o make out a prima facie case, and to be entitled to a judgment of probate in solemn form, the propounder must introduce at the hearing all the subscribing witnesses, if living and accessible, or proof of their signatures, if dead or inaccessible. Reeves makes it clear that live testimony from witnesses is not necessary to make out a prima facie case when an affidavit is attached to the Will in compliance with OCGA § 53-4-24. “[That is, the affidavit creates a presumption regarding the prima facie case, subject to rebuttal.” In Skelton, also relied upon in Meadows, the caveators admitted that the propounder of the Will made out a prima facie case that the Will was executed by someone apparently of sound mind, presumably so Caveators would have the last word in closing arguments. “Caveators assumed the burden of going forward with evidence to overcome the rebuttable presumption that the testator had the requisite capacity. We find no merit in appellant’s contention that by admitting a prima facie case, Caveators somehow stipulated testamentary capacity and were precluded from offering evidence to the contrary.” This conclusion in Skelton, that testamentary capacity may still be challenged, is consistent with OCGA § 53-4-24(c) which states: “A self-proved will or codicil may be admitted to probate without the testimony of any subscribing witness, but otherwise it shall be treated no differently from a will or codicil that is not self-proved. In particular, without limiting the generality of the foregoing sentence, a self-proved will or codicil may be contested, revoked, or amended in exactly the same fashion as a will or codicil that is not self-proved.” (emphasis added). Here, setting aside a jury verdict when a caveator has the right to rebut any presumption of validity seems to contradict the ordinary rule regarding review of jury verdicts. After approval of a jury verdict by the trial court, the judgment entered thereon will not be disturbed on appeal if supported by any evidence, in the absence of any material error of law.” Yash Solutions, LLC v. New York Global Consultants Corp., 352 Ga. App. 127, 132 (1) (834 SE2d 126) (2019).

Even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Caveators, there was no evidence that the decedent lacked the ability to form a “decided and rational desire as to the disposition of [her] property.” OCGA § 53-4-11 (a). Notably, at trial, Caveators expressly disclaimed that Decedent was insane or suffered from monomania. That is, in addition to accepting the presumption that Decedent had testamentary capacity, the Caveators failed to claim that Decedent was not of sound mind. Instead, they merely argued that she suffered from delusions. Assuming, without deciding, that delusions alone, distinguishable from insanity or monomania, were a basis upon which to establish a lack of testamentary capacity, Caveators’ claim nevertheless fails. Our case law is clear that not every delusion deprives one of testamentary capacity; rather, it must be an insane delusion. Boney, 265 Ga. at 840 (1). But Caveators effectively conceded that none of Decedent’s delusions were insane ones. Consequently, the Caveators’ claim that Decedent lacked testamentary capacity failed as a matter of law. We therefore reverse the trial court’s judgment, including the award of attorneys’ fees to Caveators. Judgment reversed. All the Justices concur..

Woods v. Stonecipher (2019)

In Woods v. Stonecipher, 349 Ga. App. 698 (2019), there was a dispute over a Will executed in 2010 by Charlotte Blalock. The Will named Blalock’s granddaughter, Amber Stonecipher, as executor. When it was presented for probate, Blalock’s daughter, Nancy Woods, filed a caveat alleging Blalock lacked testamentary capacity, that she was under undue stress or was unduly influenced. Woods also sought to have the estate pay outstanding debt on jointly property that passed to Woods as survivor.

Evidence presented:

    1. Blalock was in declining health when the Will was executed.
    2. Blalock had raised Stonecipher and the two had a mother-daughter relationship. Stonecipher moved in to help Blalock and became Blalock’s primary caregiver.
    3. In October/November 2010, Blalock told Stonecipher she wanted to update her Will.
    4. Stonecipher hired an attorney and communicated Blalock’s desired changes to the attorney.
    5. The attorney met with Blalock in her home twice to discuss the terms of the Will and gave her a copy to review, making corrections at Blalock’s direction.
    6. The new Will made Stonecipher executor, gave her Blalock’s house and made Stonecipher the residual legatee.
    7. Blalock signed the new will on November 30, 2010 in the presence of the attorney, Stonecipher, and two neighbors who had known her for many years.
    8. Blalock also signed a self-executing affidavit in which she averred,among other things, that the 2010 will was her “last will and testament[,] that [she] had willingly made and executed it as a free act and deed for the purposes expressed therein[, and] that she was … of sound
      mind[.]” The two subscribing witnesses signed this affidavit as well. Blalock also executed, before the two witnesses, a power of attorney in favor of Stonecipher.
    9. The two subscribing witnesses (only one of whom testified at trial) signed a separate affidavit in which they testified, among other things, that Blalock had “declared the instrument to be her will” and “was, at the time the will was executed, over the age of eighteen, and, to the best of the knowledge of [the subscribing witnesses], of sound mind and not under any constraint or in any respect incompetent to make a will.”
    10. Witnesses indicated that when Blalock executed the 2010 will, she seemed coherent and aware, with a good understanding of what was happening. She had read the will.
    11. Blalock indicated to one of the subscribing witnesses that she knew she was signing a new will. She told him she had worked with the attorney to draft the new will and that it was what she wanted. She did not appear confused or under duress, and it did not appear that she had been influenced to sign the new will.

Legal Reasoning:

Standard in reviewing findings of fact:

On appeal, we will not disturb the factfinder’s determination if it is supported by any evidence. See Meadows v. Beam, 302 Ga. 494, 497 (2) (807 SE2d 339) (2017); Burchard, 287 Ga. at 788 (1).

Moreover, “in reviewing this question [of the sufficiency of the evidence] in the context of a challenge to a will, a stringent standard must be met in order to set aside a will, as this deprives a person of the valuable right to make a will.” Meadows, 302 at 497-498 (2).

Testamentary Capacity:

“Testamentary capacity exists when the testator has a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of property.” OCGA § 53-4-11 (a). The requirement of testamentary capacity is fulfilled with a showing that the testator understood that the will had the effect of disposing
of her property at the time of her death, was capable of remembering generally what property was subject to disposition by will, was capable of remembering those persons related to her, and was capable of expressing an intelligent scheme of disposition. Meadows, 302 Ga. at 498 (2).

Stonecipher presented evidence which supported the superior court’s finding that Blalock had the necessary testamentary capacity to make the 2010 will. Persons present when Blalock executed the will testified that she was lucid and understood what she was doing. See Amerson v. Pahl, 292 Ga. 79, 80 (1) (734 SE2d 399) (2012); Mosley v. Warnock, 282 Ga.488, 489-490 (2) (651 SE2d 696) (2007). The subscribing witnesses stated in their affidavit that Blalock was mentally competent when she executed the will. And because the 2010 will was self-proved, in that it contained an affidavit complying with OCGA § 53-4-24, “a presumption existed that the will [was] executed with the requisite testamentary formalities, including that [it was] executed by a person apparently with sufficient mental capacity to do so, and [Woods] had a burden to rebut this presumption.” Meadows, 302 at 498 (2).

The trial evidence did not compel a finding that Woods rebutted the presumption of Blalock’s testamentary capacity. There was evidence of Blalock’s fragility around the time she signed the will; she was in failing health and under hospice care, on medication, confined to her bed, and sometimes confused. But “[n]either advancing age nor weakness of intellect nor eccentricity of habit or thought is inconsistent with testamentary capacity to make a will.” OCGA § 53-4-11 (d). “[T]estamentary capacity may be possessed by weak-minded or feeble individuals.
And anything less than a total absence of mind does not destroy testamentary capacity.” Meadows, 302 at 498 (2) (citation and punctuation omitted). See Webb v. Reeves, 299 Ga. 760, 762 (791 SE2d 35) (2016) (evidence that testator was not lucid at times does not demand finding that testator was not lucid when he executed will). As stated above, persons present when Blalock signed the will testified that she was lucid
on that day.

Woods argues that the provision in the 2010 will purporting to give to Stonecipher the house in which Blalock lived shows Blalock’s lack of testamentary capacity, because Blalock’s ownership interest in that property — a joint tenancy with Woods with survivorship rights — was not subject to disposition by will. Viewed in the light most favorable to the superior court’s judgment, however, Blalock’s attempt to dispose of the house by will suggests that she simply did not understand the legal ramifications of her joint-tenancy ownership interest. Given the other evidence of Blalock’s testamentary capacity, the superior court was not compelled to find that Blalock was not “capable of remembering generally what property was subject to disposition by will[.]” Meadows, 302 Ga. at 498 (2) (citation and punctuation omitted; emphasis supplied). See Webb, 299 Ga. at 761 (requirement that testator remember generally what property is subject to disposition “does not require the testator to know the precise property holdings of which his estate consists”); Patterson-Fowlkes v. Chancey, 291 Ga. 601, 603 (732 SE2d 252) (2012) (testator’s mistaken claim of ownership over two tracts of land that she had, in fact, purchased for others did not require a finding that she lacked testamentary capacity); Ashford v. Van Horne, 276 Ga. 636, 637 (1) (580 SE2d 201) (2003) (testator’s misunderstanding regarding beneficiary designations on life insurance policies did not require a finding that he lacked testamentary capacity).

O’Callaghan v. Samples (2020)

In O’Callaghan v. Samples, 354 Ga. App. 42 (2020), Court of Appeals affirmed the Probate Court’s order granting a petition to probate the Will of Michael Smallwood. The petition was filed by Susan Samples, Smallwood’s niece. Smallwood’s sister, Kathy O’Callaghan, filed an objection based on lack of testamentary capacity.

Evidence presented:

    1. Smallwood never married or had children.
    2. He was a Vietnam veteran diagnosed with PTSD in 1987.
    3. His sister, Jane McWhorter testified she was close to her brother and she was a mother figure to hm after their mother died.
    4. Smallwood lived alone, but was able to function on a day-to-day basis.
    5. Smallwood executed a Will on March 27, 2014, leaving all real and personal property to McWhorter.
    6. Testimony from a neighbor who helped Smallwood with household chores was that although Smallwood had some health problems, he was “always a perfect gentleman,” and he knew “exactly what was going on[.]”
    7. A long-time friend testified that he never saw Smallwood act out of his mind.
    8. A housekeeper testified that Smallwood knew who his siblings were and what assets he had.
    9. Samples testified that Smallwood told her, in 2014, to request that she serve as executor, explaining he was leaving his estate to McWhorter.
    10. An attorney, Leon Sproles, prepared Smallwood’s Will. Sproles testified that he not only obtains pertinent information from the client, but also assessed the client’s competence to execute the Will.
    11. Sproles followed his standard procedure, meeting with Smallwood twice, testifying he had no doubt regarding Smallwood’s capacity and that he would not have drafted the Will if Smallwood seemed delusional or psychotic.
    12. Sproles reviewed the Will with Smallwood and inquired regarding Smallwood’s understanding of the Will.
    13. Sproles testified that Smallwood appeared to execute the Will freely, voluntarily and with knowledge of his actions.
    14. A second attorney practicing in Sproles’ building witnessed the Will’s execution and also gave testimony that Smallwood was of sound mind and had no difficulty participating in the proceedings.
    15. Smallwood died in March 2018 in a motor vehicle collision.
    16. After Samples, the daughter of McWhorter, petitioner to probate the Will, O’Callaghan filed her objection.

Legal Reasoning:

Standard on Appeal

When a probate court’s findings in a nonjury trial are supported by any evidence, they must be affirmed on appeal. See
Amerson v. Pahl, 292 Ga. 79 (1) (734 SE2d 399) (2012).

(“[I]n reviewing this question of the sufficiency of the evidence in the context of a challenge to a will, a stringent standard
must be met in order to set aside a will, as this deprives a person of the valuable right to make a will.”) Citing Stonecipher.

Testamentary Capacity

“Testamentary capacity exists when the testator has a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of property.” OCGA § 53-4-11 (a). Ultimately, “[a] showing of testamentary capacity requires a showing that the testator was sane or of sound mind.” Meadows v. Beam, 302 Ga. 494, 498 (2) (807 SE2d 339) (2017). Such capacity exists when a testator understands the purpose of a will, knows what property he has, remembers the persons related to him by blood and affection, and “has sufficient intellect to enable him to have a decided and rational desire as to the disposition of his property.” Amerson, supra (citations and punctuation omitted). “This is a modest requirement, as testamentary capacity may be possessed by weak-minded or feeble individuals.” Meadows, supra (citations and punctuation omitted). Only a “total absence of mind” destroys testamentary capacity. Id. (citations and punctuation omitted).

The evidence does not show a “total absence of mind” here. Both attorneys who took part in the preparation and/or execution of the will testified that Smallwood appeared to understand what he was doing.

“[T]estamentary capacity, however, must be assessed as of the date he executed his will. See Amerson, supra at 80 (1). That he suffered from mental infirmities before or after he signed the will may be relevant to the inquiry, but is not dispositive. See Meadows, supra at 494 (1). The controlling question is whether Smallwood had the testamentary capacity to execute the will on March 27, 2014. See Amerson, supra; Tuttle v. Ryan, 282 Ga. 652 (653 SE2d 50) (2007). Given the evidence presented, the probate court was authorized to conclude that Smallwood understood what he was doing when he signed the will, knew what assets he owned and who the potential beneficiaries of his estate were, and had sufficient intellect to rationally decide how he wanted to dispose of his property. Accordingly, the probate court did not err in determining that he had the necessary mental capacity to execute his will. See Amerson, supra; Tuttle, supra at 652-653; see also Woods v. Stonecipher, 349 Ga. App. 698, 699-700 (1) (824 SE2d 633) (2019).

Even where a testator is found to have testamentary capacity, proof that the testator’s wishes were overcome by undue influence invalidates a Will. In Davison v. Hines, 291 Ga. 434 (2012), the Supreme Court affirmed a judgment finding that a Will and trust were the product of undue influence even though the testator was found to have testamentary capacity. On October 30, 2001, Thomas Hines, Sr. executed a Will leaving the majority of his estate to his wife for life, the remainder to be divided among his sons, Thomas and Frank Hines, upon her death. On January 5, 2002, he executed a new Will and established a revocable living trust. The 2002 Will and trust gave control of Mr. Hines’ assets and estate to Steve and Deborah Davison. Mr. Hines died on June 26, 2002.

Thomas and Frank Hines sued the Davisons in in Superior Court in 2004 alleging conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraudulent concealment of relevant facts. When they asserted that the 2002 Will and trust were invalid, the Superior Court ordered the Davisons to offer the Will for probate. In 2009 the Probate Court found that the Will was not the product of undue influence and admitted it for probate. Thomas and Frank Hines appealed to Superior Court where it was consolidated with the original case against the Davidsons.

Comment: On appeal, the Davisons raised a jurisdictional issue regarding the trust. They argued that the Superior Court lacked jurisdiction to find the Trust invalid as being a product of undue influence. See, e.g., Mitchell v. Mitchell, 220 Ga.App. 682, 683-684(2), 469 S.E.2d 540 (1996) (where probate court lacks jurisdiction to determine a particular issue, the superior court “[does] not have jurisdiction to decide the matter on appeal, and its lack of jurisdiction [cannot] be waived by the [parties]”). See also OCGA § 53-12-6(a) (“Trusts are peculiarly subjects of equity jurisdiction”); OCGA § 23-1-1 (“All equity jurisdiction shall be vested in the superior courts of the several counties”). However, this argument is entirely misplaced, as the record reveals that the issue of the validity of the Trust did not reach the Superior Court by way of appeal from the Probate Court. The Trust issue was already pending in the September 24, 2004 Superior Court action that had previously been filed by Frank and Thomas. While that Superior Court action remained pending, the Probate Court only considered issues relating to the 2002 Will.

The Davisons moved for summary judgment, which was granted in part and denied in part. The Court granted summary judgment that (1) Mr. Hines
had testamentary capacity to execute the 2002 Will; (2) no fraud had been perpetrated on Mr. Hines in connection with the Will and Trust; and (3) Thomas and Frank could not recover on their claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Court denied the Davisons’ summary judgment on the issue of whether or not the 2002 Will and Trust were the product of undue influence.The case was tried in front of a jury which found that the Will and trust were the product of undue influence.

Evidence presented:

  1. Mr. Hines did not wish to move from his home.
  2. In December 2001, the Davisons nonetheless moved Mr. Hines into their home.
  3. The same day they moved Mr. Hines into their home, the Davisons hired a lawyer to oversee execution of a power of attorney giving them control over Mr. Hines’ assets.
  4. Mr. Davison used the power of attorney to write two checks to himself, the first for $100,000 and the second for $150,000.
  5. Around the same time, the Davisons hired a lawyer to create the 2002 Will and trust.
  6. The Davisons began isolating Mr. Hines from his family, preventing Thomas and Frank from visiting with or speaking with their father.
  7. On December 28, 2001, the Davison’s lawyer met with Mr. Hines to review the the 2002 Will and trust which was prepared using only input from the Davisons.
  8. Mr. Hines indicated that he wanted to provide for his Wife, Mary, but also stated that “whatever Deborah and Steve [Davison] agree[d] on is what [he] want[ed] to do.” Mr. Hines further stated that he “agree[d] with anything about the two boys [Frank and Thomas], even if [Steve and Deborah] want[ed] to cut them out [of the Will].” He went on to say that he would “sign anything Steve and Deborah want[ed]” and that “[w]hatever [Steve and Deborah did was] completely OK with [him].”
  9. The signed documents gave the Davisons complete control over Mr. Hines assets and estate, allowing for the possibility that Thomas and Frank Hines would receive nothing.
  10. Despite Mr. Hines desire to provide for his wife, the Will and trust did not mention her.

Legal reasoning:

On appeal, the evidence was viewed in the the light most favorable to the jury’s verdict.[T]he question of undue influence is
generally for the factfinder (Mathis v. Hammond, 268 Ga. 158 (3) (486 SE2d 356) (1997))… Accordingly, as an appellate court, we view the record in the light most favorable to [Frank and Thomas] to determine if there is any evidence that would authorize a finding of undue influence by the jury. Cook v. Huff, 274 Ga. 186 (1) (552 SE2d 83) (2001).

A will is invalid “if anything destroys the testator’s freedom of volition, such as … undue influence whereby the will of another is substituted
for the wishes of the testator.” OCGA § 53-4-12. Undue influence may take many forms, and may be shown by circumstantial evidence. Bailey v.
Edmundson, 280 Ga. 528 (1) (630 SE2d 396) (2006). Further, “[a] rebuttable presumption of undue influence arises when a beneficiary under
a will occupies a confidential relationship with the testator, is not the natural object of his bounty, and takes an active part in the planning, preparation, or execution of the will.” (Citation omitted.) Id. at 529 (1).

An attack on a will as having been obtained by undue influence may be supported by a wide range of testimony, including evidence of a confidential relation between the parties, the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the disposition of the testator’s estate, old age, or
disease affecting the strength of the mind, tending to support any other direct testimony or any other proved fact or circumstance going to show the exercise of undue influence on the mind and will of the testator. (Citations and punctuation omitted). Dyer v. Souther, 272 Ga. 263, 264-265 (2) (528 SE2d 242) (2000).

The evidence authorized the jury to find that a confidential relationship existed between Mr. Hines and the Davisons. A confidential relationship exists “where one party is so situated as to exercise a controlling influence over the will, conduct, and interest of another.” OCGA § 23-2-58. Because some evidence supports the conclusion that a confidential relationship existed and that the Davisons took an active role in the planning, preparation, and execution of the 2002 Will and Trust such that their will was being substituted for that of Mr. Hines in the creation of the documents, the evidence was sufficient for the jury to conclude that these documents were the product of undue influence. See, e.g., Dyer, supra.

The Davisons argued that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence the March 19, 2002 check for $100,000, and the June 20, 2002 check
for $150,000 that Mr. Davison had written to himself pursuant to the power of attorney that he had over Mr. Hines’ affairs. However, “[r]elevant evidence about the [testator’s] state of mind at the time of the execution of the will includes testimony relating to a reasonable period of time before and after the execution of the will.” (Citation omitted; emphasis supplied.) Akin v. Patton, 235 Ga. 51, 53 (218 SE2d 802) (1975). Here, both checks were written only a few months after the execution of the Will and Trust, and they were relevant to the jury’s determination of whether or not the Davisons were consistently exercising control over Mr. Hines for their own personal gain.

Donative capacity: To constitute a valid inter vivos gift, the following criteria must be met: (1) The donor must intend to give the gift; (2) The donee must accept the gift; and (3) The gift must be delivered or some act which under law is accepted as a substitute for delivery must be done. [O.C.G.A.§ 44-5-84]. The delivery of personal property by a parent into the exclusive possession of a child living separate from the parent creates a presumption of a gift to the child. This presumption may be rebutted by evidence of an actual contract of lending or by circumstances from which such a contract may be inferred. [O.C.G.A.§ 44-5-80]. A gift by a person who is just over the age of majority or who is particularly susceptible to be unduly influenced by his parent, guardian, trustee, attorney, or other person standing in a similar confidential relationship to one of such persons shall be closely scrutinized. Upon the slightest evidence of persuasion or influence, such gift shall be declared void at the instance of the donor or his legal representative and at any time within five years after the making of such gift. [O.C.G.A.§ 44-5-86]. An insolvent person may not make a valid gift to the injury of his existing creditors. When partial or complete possession of property remains with the donor, every parol gift thereof shall be void against bona fide creditors and bona fide purchasers without notice.[O.C.G.A.§ 44-5-88]. A gift made in contemplation of death is known as a gift causa mortis. To constitute a valid gift in contemplation of death, the following criteria must be met: (1) The object of the gift must be personal property; (2) The donor must be in his last illness or in peril of death; (3) The gift must be intended to be absolute only in the event of death; (4) The gift must be perfected by either actual or symbolic delivery; and (5) The gift must be proved by one or more witnesses. [O.C.GA. § 44-5-100]. (b) A gift in contemplation of death may be made by parol.

Contractual capacity: In Kindred Nursing Centers Ltd. P’ship v. Chrzanowski, 338 Ga. App. 708 (2016), the Georgia Court of Appeals said “One of the tenets of our contract law is that a party must be able to contract. However, every person is presumed to be of sound mind and discretion but the presumption may be rebutted. For this reason our courts start with the general rule that every [person] is presumed to have all [her] mental faculties and to be of normal and ordinary intelligence, and where it is contended that one who executed a contract was not competent to execute it, the burden is upon [she] who asserts the incompetency. Mental or physical impairment is never presumed. It must be proved. … In order to void a contract on the ground of mental incapacity of the maker, [she] must have been non compos mentis, that is, entirely without understanding, at the time the contract was executed. It is also the policy of Georgia law, wherever possible, to uphold contracts and to uphold the capacity of one to enter into a contract. Further, even proof of a temporary loss of sanity or competency would create no presumption that it continued up to the time of execution of the contract, and the burden remains on the party alleging incapacity to show such incapacity at the very time of the transaction. O.C.G.A. § 13-3-24(a) provides that “The contract of an insane, a mentally ill, an intellectually disabled, or a mentally incompetent person who has never been adjudicated to be insane, mentally ill, intellectually disabled, or mentally incompetent to the extent that he is incapable of managing his estate as prescribed by this Code is not absolutely void but only voidable, except that a contract made by such person during a lucid interval is valid without ratification. Subsection (b) provides that after the fact that a person is insane, mentally ill, intellectually disabled, or mentally incompetent to the extent that he is incapable of managing his estate has been established by a court of competent jurisdiction in this state and the affairs of such person are vested in a guardian, the power of such person to contract, even though restored to sanity, shall be entirely gone; any contracts made by such person shall be absolutely void until the guardianship is dissolved. One may recover for necessaries furnished an insane person, a mentally ill person, an intellectually disabled person, or a mentally incompetent person upon the same proof as if furnished to minors.

Capacity to make health care decisions: Individuals of sound mind may control their health care decision making. However, “Whenever a health care provider believes a declarant is unable to understand the general nature of the health care procedure which the provider deems necessary, the health care provider shall consult with any available health care agent known to the health care provider who then has power to act for the declarant under an advance directive for health care.” [O.C.G.A. § 31-32-8]. In Doctors Hosp. of Augusta, LLC v. Alicea, 332 Ga. App. 529 (2015), direction from a health agent was ignored and a patient was kept alive despite clear direction from the hearth agent regarding refusal of care. The Court founds that in adopting the “The Advance Directive Act is codified at OCGA §§ 31-32-1 through 31-32-14… the General Assembly noted that it “has long recognized the right of the individual to control all aspects of his or her personal care and medical treatment, including the right to insist upon medical treatment, decline medical treatment, or direct that medical treatment be withdrawn,” and that “the clear expression of an individual’s decisions regarding health care, whether made by the individual or an agent appointed by the individual, is of critical importance not only to citizens but also to the health care and legal communities, third parties, and families.” Ga. L. 2007, p. 133, § 1 (a), (d). … When the designated agent notifies a health care provider of a decision regarding the declarant’s medical care or treatment, the provider must abide by the agent’s decision, “subject to the health care provider’s right to administer treatment for the declarant’s comfort or alleviation of pain.” OCGA § 31-32-8 (2).

In 2005, the American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association jointly published three guides on the Assessment of Older Adults with Diminished Capacity:

The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging maintains a number of helpful resources, including it’s Capacity Assessment resources.


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