Testamentary Capacity Assessment: Legal, Medical, and Neuropsychological Issues

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The increase in the aging population and the number of patients with dementia led to the research in older adults’ capacity assessment over the last 3 decades. Many cases of contested wills occur due to lack of testamentary capacity (TC), especially in cases of dementia.


Purpose of the present study was to overview the legal, medical, and neuropsychological aspects of TC as well as the instruments used for TC assessment.


The testator/testatrix with intact TC has realistic perception of his or her property value, lack of psychopathology affecting contact with reality, and intact intention of how and to whom he or she will dispose his or her assets. It is frequent for the health practitioners to serve as “gold standards assessors” by examining an individual’s ability to make a valid will and giving evidence to the court to support or not a will contest. The TC assessment is a complex process of clinical and legal practice requiring usually a variety of methods, that is, interviews, evaluation of clinical records, and administration of neuropsychological instruments.


The evaluation of TC is a multidimensional process that integrates both the legal and medical field, requiring a collaborative approach to its definition and assessment.

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