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There is often confusion around what it means to “have capacity” to sign legal documents and why it is relevant.

Whether someone has the capacity to understand the contents of what they are signing is extremely important.

If you or someone you know needs to sign legal documents such as a Will, Powers of Attorney, trust documents, or a Sale or Purchase Agreement to name a few and this concept of capacity has been brought up and you’re not sure what to do, you have come to the right place!

We at Collins & May are here to help you understand what capacity means and why it is so important when signing legal documents.

Family Trusts

So what is capacity, and why does it matter?

Capacity is the ability of a person to make their own decisions and understand exactly what they are doing. When signing legal documents, a person needs to have capacity to ensure they understand the document that they are signing.

Often when a person’s capacity is queried, in order to sign any documents, they will need a doctor’s certificate to confirm that they have capacity to sign. A doctor or other specialised medical professional is qualified in making assessments as to capacity.  As legal experts, we are not qualified to make this determination.

Obtaining a doctor’s certificate is protection to ensure that if a person’s capacity is queried in future, the certificate can be produced at a later date as evidence that they had capacity at the time of signing the document.

If it is doubtful as to whether someone had capacity at the time of signing a document, the legitimacy of the document could be up for debate. This is an issue as the documents may be considered invalid and the documents will have no effect.

Your understanding matters

It is very important at Collins and May that our clients understand the importance of signing legal documents. We will always ensure clients are capable of making and understanding their own decisions before signing.

If you have any concerns around capacity issues, give us a call today. Our experienced team are here to help.