If a person does not have a power of attorney and is mentally incapable due to illness, injury or accident then a Designated Capacity assessor can assess for legal guardianship. Guardianship is a special legal authority for one person to make decisions on behalf of another person.
Before a guardian may be assigned, it must be determined whether the person is, in fact, mentally incapable. In certain circumstances spelled out in the Substitute Decisions Act, a designated capacity assessor is the only professional who is authorized by law to make this determination. For example, a guardian of property may only be appointed to manage an incapable person’s finances without a court hearing, if a capacity assessor has assessed the person and found him or her to be incapable. A Designated Capacity Assessor is often needed to assess a client to support a court application for guardian of the person.
A Designated Capacity Assessor’s opinion may also be required if a person has made a power of attorney and specified in the document that his or her incapacity must be proven before the power of attorney can be used. If the individual doesn’t say how incapacity is to be proven, a Designated Capacity Assessor’s opinion is required.
An assessment of mental capacity may also be requested by a bank or financial institution to support the request of an Attorney for Property to begin to manage another persons affairs. An attorney for personal care or attorney for property, or a client themselves may ask for a capacity assessment to help them decide if or when it is necessary for an attorney to take on decision making.
A capacity assessment for ability to write a power of attorney or a will may be requested by a lawyer in cases where there is some reason to suspect that the person granting a will or power of attorney is not capable of understanding and appreciating the purpose and effect of these documents.