replied 3 years ago.
This is the definition provided by the California Probate Code.
I take it you're in California, since you're asking this in California Employment Law. Please let me know if that's incorrect.
California Probate Code Section 811
811. (a) A determination that a person is of unsound mind or lacks
the capacity to make a decision or do a certain act, including, but
not limited to, the incapacity to contract, to make a conveyance, to
marry, to make medical decisions, to execute wills, or to execute
trusts, shall be supported by evidence of a deficit in at least one
of the following mental functions, subject to subdivision (b), and
evidence of a correlation between the deficit or deficits and the
decision or acts in question:
(1) Alertness and attention, including, but not limited to, the
(A) Level of arousal or consciousness.
(B) Orientation to time, place, person, and situation.
(C) Ability to attend and concentrate.
(2) Information processing, including, but not limited to, the
(A) Short- and long-term memory, including immediate recall.
(B) Ability to understand or communicate with others, either
verbally or otherwise.
(C) Recognition of familiar objects and familiar persons.
(D) Ability to understand and appreciate quantities.
(E) Ability to reason using abstract concepts.
(F) Ability to plan, organize, and carry out actions in one's own
(G) Ability to reason logically.
(3) Thought processes. Deficits in these functions may be
demonstrated by the presence of the following:
(A) Severely disorganized thinking.
(D) Uncontrollable, repetitive, or intrusive thoughts.
(4) Ability to modulate mood and affect. Deficits in this ability
may be demonstrated by the presence of a pervasive and persistent or
recurrent state of euphoria, anger, anxiety, fear, panic, depression,
hopelessness or despair, helplessness, apathy or indifference, that
is inappropriate in degree to the individual's circumstances.
(b) A deficit in the mental functions listed above may be
considered only if the deficit, by itself or in combination with one
or more other mental function deficits, significantly impairs the
person's ability to understand and appreciate the consequences of his
or her actions with regard to the type of act or decision in
(c) In determining whether a person suffers from a deficit in
mental function so substantial that the person lacks the capacity to
do a certain act, the court may take into consideration the
frequency, severity, and duration of periods of impairment.
(d) The mere diagnosis of a mental or physical disorder shall not
be sufficient in and of itself to support a determination that a
person is of unsound mind or lacks the capacity to do a certain act.
(e) This part applies only to the evidence that is presented to,
and the findings that are made by, a court determining the capacity
of a person to do a certain act or make a decision, including, but
not limited to, making medical decisions. Nothing in this part shall
affect the decision making process set forth in Section 1418.8 of the
Health and Safety Code, nor increase or decrease the burdens of
documentation on, or potential liability of, health care providers
who, outside the judicial context, determine the capacity of patients
to make a medical decision.
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