Should my Parent Include a Letter of Competency?
An aging parent’s physical and emotional health and well-being can be a source of worry and anxiety for loved ones. This stress is only compounded when parent’s mental capacity is impaired by age or disease. Advance directives, power of attorney documents, wills, and other important documents offer family members and caregivers guidelines about a parent’s wishes for their estate and medical care.
If the parent’s mental capacity is diminished, the validity of these documents may be in question. Debates over what the parent really wants, what is best for them, or what motivated their decisions can be avoided with a Letter of Competency.
What is a Letter of Competency?
A Letter of Competency is a document verifying an individual is of sound mind when drafting their will and other important documents. This ensures their wishes are honored should they become ill or in the event of their passing. A Letter of Competency removes doubt that these documents were created or signed under duress or while the parent was unaware or unsure of what they were signing.
Painful family disagreements and unanswered questions can be dispelled with a Letter of Competency. It offers children and other loved ones the comfort of knowing their family member made these important decisions while they were mentally and physically capable of doing so.
How Does my Parent Create a Letter of Competency?
The parent’s primary care physician is responsible for completing a Letter of Competency. Because they are familiar with the patient’s history and baseline mental and physical health, they can recognize the signs of decline. If the individual’s cognitive abilities are in question, their Brooklyn elder law attorney may ask a more specialized physician like a neurologist or psychologist to evaluate their health and write a Letter of Competency.
A standard Letter of Competency includes the following information:
- The patient’s name
- The patient’s date of birth
- The date the patient first saw the physician
- The physician’s contact information
- The patient’s overall health history including specific conditions and the dates of each diagnosis
- The physician’s statement verifying the patient’s ability to make independent decisions about their own healthcare, legal concerns, and financial matters
An experienced elder law lawyer may request additional information or evidence be included in their client’s Letter of Competency. A copy of the Letter of Competency should be secured in a lockbox with other important personal documents. The client’s physician and their attorney also keep copies on file.
Brooklyn Elder Law Attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Protect Clients and Their Loved Ones with Smart Estate Planning
If you have questions about whether a Letter of Competency is right for you or a loved one, schedule an appointment with the caring, experienced Brooklyn elder law attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP. Because your situation is unique, we take the time and attention to evaluate your needs and assist your family in protecting all you have worked so hard to build.
With locations in Brooklyn and Lakewood, New Jersey, we assist clients in and around Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York and all of New Jersey with their estate planning and elder law matters. Call 212-495-8133 or complete the convenient online contact form to get started today.