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When is a person mentally competent?

When is a person mentally incompetent?

Mental incompetence relates to one’s legal capacity to understand and to make rational decisions. A person who is unable to manage his or her affairs due to frailty, long-term illness, or disability, is not necessarily mentally incompetent. Frequently, such a person is mentally astute, but needs someone to manage his or her business affairs. This issue frequently arises in the context of whether the person is able to sign a Will, a deed, or a Power-of-Attorney.

The most common causes of mental incompetence include Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and strokes. Alzheimer’s and dementia are degenerative diseases, and affects people differently. Sometimes a person who is on certain types of medication, or heavily medicated, may appear to be mentally incompetent, but that condition may be temporary. Also, the person may have lucid intervals during which the person is able to understand and make rational decisions.

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