According to FINRA’s estimates, for the next 15 years, an average of 10,000 Americans will turn 65. Those of us who work with the elderly regularly, need to be attuned to deciding whether our clients have the capacity to make decisions regarding their financial affairs? All lawyers, be it in the practice area of estates, securities, or virtually any other discipline often have to make a capacity determination, while contracting services and sometimes along the way. We often have to determine if our client has the capacity to have entered into certain legal transactions.
According to the American Bar Association, Rule 1.14 that provides guidance on Client With Diminished Capacity (ABA):
(b) When the lawyer reasonably believes that the client has diminished capacity, is at risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken and cannot adequately act in the client’s own interest, the lawyer may take reasonably necessary protective action, including consulting with individuals or entities that have the ability to take action to protect the client and, in appropriate cases, seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem, conservator or guardian.