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Conservatorship Assessment Factors


In deciding whether to grant a conservatorship, the court will make a comprehensive assessment of the proposed conservatee’s mental capacity. Here is a sample of some of the things the court may consider.

Assessment of Competence — Indicators of Incapacity

  1. Alertness and Attention
    1. Levels of arousal. (i.e., lethargic, responds only to vigorous and persistent stimulation, stupor)
    2. Orientation. Name ____________ Time ____________ (day, date, month, season, year), Place ____________ (address, town, state), Situation ____________ (Why am I here?)
    3. Ability to attend and concentrate (Ability to give detailed answers from memory).
  2. Information Processing
  3. Ability to:

    1. Remember, i.e., short and long term memory, immediate recall (Deficits reflected by: forgetting questions before answering, inability to recall names of relatives, past presidents, events of past 24 hours).
    2. Understand and communicate either verbally or otherwise. (Deficits reflected by: inability to comprehend questions, follow instructions, use words correctly or name objects; nonsense words).
    3. Recognize familiar objects and persons (Deficits reflected by: inability to recognize familiar faces, objects, etc).
    4. Understand and appreciate quantities (Perform simple calculations).
    5. Reason using abstract concepts (Grasp abstract aspects of his or her situation; interpret idiomatic expressions or proverbs).
    6. Plan, organize, and carry out actions (assuming physical ability) in one’s own rational self–interest (Break complex tasks down into simple steps and carry them out).
    7. Reason logically.
  4. Thought Disorders
    1. Severely disorganized thinking (Rambling, nonsensical, incoherent, or nonlinear thinking).
    2. Hallucinations (Auditory, visual, olfactory).
    3. Delusions (Demonstrably false belief maintained without or against reason or evidence).
    4. Uncontrollable or intrusive thoughts (Unwanted compulsive thoughts, compulsive behavior).
  5. Ability to Modulate Mood and Affect

Pervasive and persistent or recurrent emotional state, which appears severely inappropriate in degree to the individual’s circumstances.

  • Apathy
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Despair
  • Euphoria
  • Fear
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Indifference
  • Panic

Prepared by Bethany Jones, UCLA legal intern, Summer 2005.