Planning For A Secure Future

Why and when is a letter of competency needed?

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2021 | Estate Planning

California residents should consider all the details when planning their estate. In some cases, a letter of competency might be needed to go along with a will and other estate documents. It’s important to understand what this is and why it might be necessary.

What is a letter of competency?

A letter of competency is an official letter written by a doctor that states that a person, usually a senior, is capable of making their own decisions about their estate, finances and health care. The importance of letter of competency is emphasized when a person is engaged in the estate planning process. The letter’s purpose is to stress that the individual is legally competent and able to make their own important decisions on matters covered in their estate planning documents.

What does a letter of competency do?

The importance of a letter of competency is clear when a person becomes older and might be suffering from a condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Although the person was of sound mind when they created the documents needed for planning their estate, they might be confused or angry about signing them later. This is why a letter of competency is necessary. Legally, the person cannot make changes to any of their documents without it.

How can a person obtain a letter of competency?

Most people can obtain a letter of competency from their primary care physician. The letter should be drafted on the doctor’s official letterhead and include pertinent information, including the following:

  • The patient’s name
  • The patient’s date of birth
  • The date the patient started seeing the doctor
  • The doctor’s statement attesting to the patient’s competency
  • The patient’s medical diagnosis
  • The date of that diagnosis
  • The doctor’s contact information

A letter of competency should be reviewed to ensure its legality.