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Tampa Estate Planning Attorney > Blog > Tampa Estate Planning Attorney > An Assessment Tool For Determining Whether Elderly Adults Understand Their Own Decisions

An Assessment Tool For Determining Whether Elderly Adults Understand Their Own Decisions


It is not difficult to find horror stories about seniors being unfairly placed under guardianship or about the most vulnerable adults, who truly are unable to make their own decisions about finances and medical care, being entrusted to unscrupulous guardians.  The most nightmarish cases are about whether it is one person’s word against another’s about whether the elderly person at the center of the case is healthy enough not to need a guardian.  Although medical and psychiatric evaluations of the ward are part of the process, there are plenty of cases where there is room for dispute about whether the doctor who evaluated the ward was able to see the whole picture.  A Tampa estate planning attorney can help you prevent and resolve disputes related to adult guardianship.

What Is the Interview for Decisional Abilities, and How Does It Work?

Every day, Adult Protective Services (APS) receives numerous calls from people concerned that elderly or otherwise medically vulnerable adults are suffering physical or financial abuse, neglect by caregivers, or self-neglect.  Researchers at Cornell University have developed the Interview for Decisional Abilities, an assessment tool to help them determine which of the adults about whom they receive reports need to undergo further medical evaluation which could lead to them being placed under guardianship.

The Adult Protective Services workers interview the alleged victim of elder abuse about the recent actions that prompted the call to APS.  For example, if a bank teller reported that an elderly woman has recently visited the bank several times with her nephew and withdrawn sizable amounts of money, APS will first ask her what happened the last few times she visited the bank.  Whether her answer is consistent with what the bank teller reported will provide information about whether the woman’s memory is reliable.  APS will then ask the woman why she did what she did and what she thinks the results of her actions will be.  The interview may leave APS with the impression that the woman is simply being generous or investing in a business with her nephew, or it may lead them to think that her nephew is defrauding her, or that he is pressuring her to give him money, even if she is afraid to tell APS the truth about it.

Several states routinely use the Interview for Decisional Abilities when investigating allegations of elder abuse, and several others are planning to begin implementing it.  Having a uniform method of screening to identify which elderly adults need further testing for cognitive impairment or dementia.  Even if Florida implements the Interview for Decisional Abilities, it will not be a replacement for the services of estate planning lawyers in disputes related to guardianship.

Contact David Toback With Questions About Adult Guardianship

A Central Florida estate planning lawyer can help you choose a guardian long before you need one and remain in control of your own finances and decisions for as long as possible.  Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.




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