It’s very important to be alert to the relative degree of cognition of the client.
Do they speak English? Do they read English?
Can they explain the steps you have outlined, back to you? Certainly, this is the key test. If they can’t, then, there’s a problem.
Naturally, It’s a sensitive area. There are all kinds of people for whom senile dementia had already started in their “50’s. Then again, there are people who at age 101 are still functioning extremely well (Hazel McCallion).
You will often be confronted with situations in which a friend, relative or associate wants to answer all your questions on their behalf. This is a danger sign! They may have been doing that for years, but this is the person who owns the property. This is the person who is your client and this is the person from whom you are take instructions.
With deteriorating cognition, this can often take years and there can be good days and bad days. Be sure to document carefully the instructions on the good days.
If the person is not capable in your opinion, then, you will need to take instructions from someone appointed by a Power of Attorney, or other substitute decision-maker.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker