Legal updates

elder law : Capacity, dementia and neuropsychology

Lise Barry, Jane Lonie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Martin (not his real name) is a 58-yearold former solicitor who wanted to revoke the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) in which he appointed his ex-wife his attorney. Martin had been diagnosed with a form of dementia known as primary progressive aphasia (progressive loss of language). Martin's ex-wife challenged the revocation, believing his dementia meant he lacked the capacity to revoke the appointment and relied on the opinion of a neurologist who had seen Martin as part of a brain study. The neurologist based his medical opinion on the diagnosis of dementia and the typical progression of the disease. Martin's lawyers sought the opinion of two independent neuropsychologists. Although Martin had lost his speech and could communicate only through gesture, the neuropsychologists were able to administer tests that could measure Martin's visual reasoning, abstract thinking, problem solving and decision-making ability. Both neuropsychologists found that Martin did not exhibit the "typical" progression of the disease. Although his language was selectively and severely affected, he maintained other decision-making skills that he could exhibit if he was tested visually, rather than verbally. The Guardianship Tribunal found in favour of Martin and he was able to revoke the EPOA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-79
Number of pages2
JournalLSJ : Law Society of NSW journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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