Assessing testamentary and decision-making competence/capacity in the Australian context

Purser, Kelly, Magner, Eilis, & Madison, Jeanne (2013) Assessing testamentary and decision-making competence/capacity in the Australian context. In XXXIIIrd International Congress on Law and Mental Health, 14-19 July 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Australia lacks a satisfactory, national paradigm for assessing competence and capacity in the context of testamentary, enduring power of attorney and advance care directive documents. Competence/capacity assessments are currently conducted on an ad hoc basis by legal and/or medical professionals. The reliability of the assessment process is subject to the skill set and mutual understanding of the legal and/or medical professional conducting the assessment. There is a growth in the prevalence of diseases such as dementia. Such diseases impact upon cognition which increasingly necessitates collaboration between the legal and medical professions when assessing the effect of mentally disabling conditions upon competency/capacity. Miscommunication and lack of understanding between legal and medical professionals involved could impede the development of a satisfactory paradigm.

A qualitative study seeking the views of legal and medical professionals who practise in this area has been conducted. This incorporated surveys and interviews of 10 legal and 20 medical practitioners. Some of the results are discussed here. Practitioners were asked whether there is a standard approach and whether national guidelines were desirable. There was general agreement that uniform guidelines for the assessment of competence/capacity would be desirable. The interviews also canvassed views as to the state of the relationship between the professions. The results of the empirical research support the hypothesis that relations between the professions could be improved. The development of a national paradigm would promote consistency and transparency of process, helping to improve the professional relationship and maximising the principles of autonomy, participation and dignity.

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ID Code: 62916
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Capacity Assessment, Testamentary Capacity, Decision-Making Capacity, Medico-Legal
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Please consult the authors
Deposited On: 26 Sep 2013 22:56
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2013 22:56

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