Letter of Competency – What it is and why you need to know

Your parent may need to make major decisions regarding finances, medical care, and power of attorney as they age. This is so they can officially state what they want and how they want their affairs to be taken care of as they age. However, the legality of these documents can be called into question and challenged if one party believes they didn’t have the capacity to make these decisions. Having a letter of competency to accompany other important documents can help.  

“Families can undergo considerable strain when they don’t know what their loved one wants. Having a letter of competency can provide families much-needed peace of mind that their loved one was of sound mind and their documents are accurate to what they want,” says Jessica Smith, Community Outreach Director of  YourLife™ of Wildwood Memory Care. 

In this blog, we’ll go over what a letter of competency is and how it can help seniors and their families. 

What Is a Letter of Competency? 

A letter of competency is a document that states an individual has the ability to make their own decisions about their legal and financial matters, and to make decisions about their healthcare. 

The document is written by the individual’s healthcare provider. Other important information includes: 

  • The patient’s name and date of birth
  • The physician’s name and contact information 
  • When the doctor-patient relationship started
  • Other medical diagnoses that are relevant 

After obtaining this letter, you may also want a lawyer to review it to make sure it has all the necessary information for it to be valid. 

Why Is Having a Letter of Competency Important? 

You may wonder why you need to have this kind of document in the first place. When your loved one is making decisions about their finances, legal affairs, and healthcare, and are having official documentation of these decisions, they need to be considered competent.
 

If someone’s mental competency is in question, then another party could argue that they weren’t able to make these decisions and could dispute those documents. This situation could occur if later on your loved one develops dementia or other issues that affect memory and their ability to make decisions.

Families can avoid these tricky situations when their loved one has a letter of competency at the time they’re making a will or power of attorney. 

As a caregiver, you can explain how obtaining a letter of competency will allow your loved one to independently make their decisions and make sure their wishes are adhered to if there is a time when they can no longer do so. 

In the future, your loved one may need more advanced care. If they go into memory care, then you can have peace of mind that you helped them take care of their important matters when they were able to. With those taken care of, you can focus on helping and supporting your loved one as they adjust to their new home.

Our Community Is Here for You

Having a letter of competency provides your loved one with independence regarding their future. Independence, choice, and quality of life are all values that YourLife™ of Wildwood Memory Care upholds. 


If your loved one will require memory care in their senior community, YourLife™ of Wildwood is here for you. Reach out to us today to learn more about our memory care program.