Pseudodementia and competency.

M. I. Good,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law 21(3): 365-70, 1993.
An increase in the number of challenges to competency determinations in probate cases parallels an increasingly aging population. In the literature on competency determination, there is little if any discussion of the implications of pseudodementing conditions, which can quite readily be misdiagnosed as true dementias, especially in the elderly. This case report describes a patient thought to have had a stroke with dementia and paresis who turned out to have had a pseudodementia. She later made a dramatic and somewhat surprising recovery. It subsequently came to light that a nearly successful attempt had been made to defraud her of her estate during her presumed dementia, which was thought to have been irreversible. The case underscores issues in competency determination, including matters of diagnosis, prognosis, and undue influence.