'Evaluation of testamentary capacity: A systematic review'

Himaja Aravind, Mark Taylor, Neeraj Gill

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    OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the literature on methods for the standardized and objective assessment of Testamentary Capacity (TC), to identify the best evidence-based and clinically pragmatic method to assess TC. Doubts concerning TC can have far-reaching legal and financial implications.

    METHOD: A systematic search of the literature was conducted, using PRISMA guidelines, to identify studies which describe methods or tools for the assessment of TC.

    RESULTS: The Testamentary Definition Scale (TDS); the Testamentary Capacity Assessment Tool (TCAT); and the Testamentary Capacity Instrument (TCI) all have good psychometric properties, but TDS only partially assesses TC, and the TCI is designed for research rather than day-to-day clinical practice.

    CONCLUSION: The TCAT could usefully supplement the clinical assessment of TC, coupled with a standardized examination of cognition. There is room to develop an all-encompassing TC assessment tool. Currently, the clinical judgement of a medical professional, taking account of the medical, legal, ethical issues informing a capacity or competency decision, remains the gold standard for assessing TC.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Feb 2024


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