Psychiatric Evaluation and Expert Witness Service

Guardianship

Guardianship cases (ARS 14-5101)present a challenge when there are competing interests or when the person who needs a guardianship protests. A Psychiatric Evaluation is needed for a Judge to grant a Guardianship. Sometimes one’s primary care physician is willing to do the assessment however they are not trained in the legal pieces; therefore often are uncomfortable doing so. I provide an in-home or office Guardianship Evaluation at my Scottsdale location and I offer in-home because it allows me a glimpse into their true day-to-day living conditions. I collaborate with Probate Attorney’s to facilitate the process. A Guardianship involves petitioning the court in order to appoint a decision maker over someone who is unable to make decisions on their own.  The Psychiatric Evaluation provides an unbiased assessment of one’s deficits to ensure everyone’s rights are being carefully considered.

Although a full Guardianship is the most common, a partial Guardianship is often an option and allows one to maintain much of their independence while still protecting them.  As a Psychiatrist I work closely with the Probate attorney’s to determine the best options based on one’s needs.  This allows for a very customized approach rather than a one size fits all process.

Conservatorship

Conservatorship (ARS 14-5401(2)) in Arizona involves specifically appointing someone to manage someone’s financial affairs. One can obtain a conservatorship to protect assets if they feel a family members for example is incapable of making rational financial decisions. This is often the case in elderly folks with varying degrees of dementia but can be necessary in younger people with other Psychiatric or Cognitive disorders.  The Conservatorship process again involves a Psychiatric Evaluation coupled with an attorney’s expertise to petition the court.

Expert Witness Services

Expert witness services become necessary in different types of litigation such as contested Will’s or Trust’s, contested Guardianship/Conservatorship, or any legal process involving a potential deficit caused by a Psychiatric or Cognitive issue. As a psychiatrist with experience in Geriatric Psychiatric medicine, I provide expert review of cases involving cases where one is alive or cases in which a person has deceased and people are contesting a piece of the estate. I am experienced in cases involving Vulnerable Adult’s and Exploitation.  There are specific statutes and as an experienced Psychiatrist, I offer an in-depth understanding of the legal element combined with my clinical knowledge as a practicing Psychiatrist.

Capacity Assessments

Capacity assessments in Arizona are relevant usually in cases of activating a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a document appoint another individual to financial, mental health or medical decisions if they become mentally incapacitated. The question that requires an expert psychiatrist is whether one has become incapacitated.

Other capacity assessments involves questions surrounding one’s ability to make certain decisions or carry out certain actions. Depending on the complexity of the decision or action, a different level of capacity is involved which is where the role of a Psychiatrist comes in. A good understanding of the varying levels of capacity is crucial to making a proper assessment and as an experienced Psychiatrist working in this realm, I am able to very clearly assess and opine on all capacity decisions.

Other capacity assessments include one’s ability to pursue a marriage or a divorce, one’s ability to enter into a contract and one’s ability to manage their own finances or make their own medical decisions

Testamentary Capacity

Testamentary Capacity is an addiction and very important type of Capacity. Defined by the following:

(1) the ability to know the nature and extent of his property; (2) the ability to know his relation to the persons who are the natural objects of his bounty and whose interests are affected by the terms of the instrument; or (3) the ability to understand the nature of the testamentary act.”

One requires Testamentary Capacity when executing/modifying a Will or a Trust document.  Another common area of much confusion, even amongst different Psychiatrists and Attorney’s is the concept of maintaining Testamentary Capacity while one is under a Guardianship. One can indeed retain Testamentary Capacity While incapacitated however a Psychiatrist with experience in the detailed medical-legal forum is needed to properly assess these complicated cases.

In general I offer the above assessments and I am experienced in testifying in both the court-room and during depositions. I have a strong record of success in the court-room and offera confident, well-spoken and knowledgeable witness with the ability to convey testimony in concise but convincing way’s.  If you have any questions please give me a call.