Trusts and Estates

Season 3, Episode 7: Working with Clients Who May Have Cognitive Impairment

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Most attorneys are able to identify clients who clearly have mental capacity to make decisions and those who clearly lack such capacity.  But what about the clients in the middle part of the spectrum?

In this episode, geropsychologist Bonnie Olsen provides practical guidance on dealing with clients who may have mental function deficits.  She explains how capacity is situational, what attorneys can do to optimize client decision-making ability, and how to get beyond the label of a diagnosis.  

Dr. Olsen’s article entitled “What Attorneys Need to Know About a Client’s Cognitive Capacity” will appear in Volume 29, Issue 2, of California Trusts and Estates Quarterly, which is available to all members of the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association.

About the Guest:

Dr. Bonnie Olsen is clinical psychologist who often works with elderly patients.  She is a Professor of Clinical Family Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.  In 2020-2021, she led a project funded by the U.S. Department of Justice to develop and test an evidence-informed tool for judges to adjudicate guardianship/conservatorship petitions.  In addition, she has a consulting practice in which she evaluates a person’s mental capacity to make estate planning changes, either before or after they are made.

About the Host:

When this episode was recorded (August 3, 2023), Jeffrey Galvin was an attorney with Downey Brand LLP in Sacramento, where he litigated trust and estate disputes involving mental capacity and undue influence issues, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association.  

Thank you for listening to Trust Me!

Trust Me is Produced by Foley Marra Studios
Edited by Todd Gajdusek

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