Too ill to will? deathbed wills: Assessing testamentary capacity near the end of life

Purser, Kelly & Rosenfeld, Tuly (2016) Too ill to will? deathbed wills: Assessing testamentary capacity near the end of life. Age and Ageing, 45(3), pp. 334-336.

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Assessing testamentary capacity in the terminal phase of an illness or at a person's deathbed is fraught with challenges for both doctors and lawyers. Numerous issues need to be considered when assessing capacity for a will. These issues are exacerbated when such an assessment needs to be undertaken at the bedside of a dying patient. The nature and severity of the illness, effects on cognition of the terminal illness, effects of medication, urgency, psychological and emotional factors, interactions with carers, family and lawyers, and a range of other issues confound and complicate the assessment of capacity. What is the doctor's role in properly assessing capacity in this context and how does this role intersect with the legal issues? Doctors will play an increasing role in assessing testamentary capacity in this setting. The ageing of society, more effective treatment of acute illness and, often, the prolongation of dying are only some of the factors leading to this increasing need. However, despite its importance and increasing prevalence, the literature addressing this challenging practical area is scarce and offers limited guidance. This paper examines these challenges and discusses some practical approaches.

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ID Code: 94420
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Capacity, Assessment, End of Life, Deathbed Wills, Testamentary Capacity
DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afw055
ISSN: 1468-2834
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 2016 [The Authors]
Copyright Statement: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Age and Ageing following peer review. The version of record Purser, Kelly & Rosenfeld, Tuly (2016) Too ill to will? deathbed wills: assessing testamentary capacity near the end of life. Age and Ageing. is available online at:
Deposited On: 06 Apr 2016 23:23
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2016 22:10

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