Decisional Capacity Expert California

Dr. Stacey Wood is one of the nation’s leading expert witnesses in the areas of decisional capacity and neuropsychology. Wood has vast experience as an expert witness across a broad spectrum of court cases involving decision making capacity here in California and nationwide. See Dr. Wood’s curriculum vitae.

Licensed in Washington State and CA.

Board Certified

in Geropsychology

One of the nation’s leading experts in the areas of forensic neuropsychology and geropsychology, Dr. Stacey Wood has vast experience as an expert witness in California and nationwide.

Years of Experience

Expert Analysis

Trials and Depositions

Board Certified

in Geropsychology

One of the nation’s leading experts in the areas of forensic neuropsychology and geropsychology, Dr. Stacey Wood has vast experience as an expert witness in California and nationwide.

Years of Experience

Expert Analysis

Trials and Depositions

What Is Considered a Decisional Capacity?

A decisional capacity is the ability to make and communicate informed decisions about medical care. The decisional capacity assessment is also known as a MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool (MacCAT).

The decisional capacity assessment is used to determine whether an individual has the ability to:

  • Understand information related to their medical condition

  • Appreciate the consequences of treatment decisions

  • Reason through different treatment options

  • Decide on their medical care

  • Communicate their decision to others

A decisional capacity assessment is typically conducted by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional. The assessment is usually done at the request of the individual’s doctor or family member.

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Elder Investment Fraud Expert Dr. Stacey Wood

Dr. Stacey Wood

My scholarly interests are in the areas of neuropsychology and decision-making capacity from a lifespan development perspective. I am interested in how changes in the brain, emotion, and motivation interact across the lifespan to influence how we make decisions. I am especially interested in taking theoretical work and applying it to everyday types of decisions. One such application is in the area of assessing decision-making capacity for the courts. An understanding of cognitive mechanisms that may underlie specific types of legal decisions (i.e. testamentary, financial) can help us to design better tools and be more effective as witnesses.

Why choose Dr. Wood for decision making capacity cases?

Experience You Can Count On

Dr. Wood has experience in presenting these complex cases in her writing, reports, presentations and testifying. In fact, she is one of the leading witnesses in neuropsychology.

A Leader in Her Field of Study

Dr. Wood has published extensively in the area of decisional capacity and continues to be an active scholar in this area. As such, she is aware of new developments in the field and can help provide evidence-based solutions to these cases.

Specialized Expertise

Dr. Wood’s scope of practice is limited to the assessment of older adults and dependent adults with diminished capacity. She understands the risks and benefits, as well as the values of American patients remaining as independent as responsibly possible.

In a comparison with her contemporaries, it is apparent that there are many reasons patients should choose Dr. Stacey Wood for conducting a formal interview, assessing competence and mental capacity to consent, and finding whether a surrogate decision-maker is necessary.

Interested in working with Dr. Wood on a decisional capacity case?

Featured Information on Decisional Capacity

Assessment of Older Adults with Diminished Capacity

Published by the APA and ABA, Dr. Wood served as Lead Editor on the volume.


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Undue Influence

If you are tasked with a case involving undue influence in California, consider consulting with Dr. Stacey Wood.


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Assessment of Capacity in the Aging Society

An excellent summary of key issues in the assessment of decision making capacity by Moye, Marson, and Edelstein.


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Probate Conservatorship

Dr. Stacey Wood is one of the nation’s leading expert witnesses in the areas of probate conservatorship and contested conservatorship.


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Contact Dr. Wood Today

Molly Mason Jones Professor of Psychology; Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Washington State and CA.

Phone: (909) 607-9505
Curriculum Vitae: View Here
Connect with Dr. Wood on LinkedIn

Medical Decision-Making Capacity In California

Decision-making capacity California is a general term that can be defined as “a threshold requirement for persons to retain the power to make decisions for themselves” (Appelbaum & Gutheil, 1991, p. 180). The principal determinant of this ability is cognition.

Many things can diminish one’s mental status, such as illnesses like Alzheimer’s Disease or certain medications and clinical therapies that have the potential to affect cognition. Diminished decision-making capacity can have a profound impact on an individual’s life, as well as the lives of those around them.

A skillful decisional capacity California evaluation using various assessment tools may also help determine the level of an individual’s cognitive impairment and enhance the efficacy of talks with their surrogate decision-maker.

It can also be of benefit as a guide for physicians when assessing competence and capacity to informed consent to treatment.

Clinical and legal professionals are increasingly turning to psychologists for opinions regarding the decision-making capacity of older adults.

Conducting an interview and a full assessment of patient capacity helps determine patients’ mental health and ascertain whether or not a patient has sufficient capacity. This is essential in striking the correct balance between respecting individual liberty and behaving in a patient’s best interest.


How Do You Prove Decisional Capacity in California?

To clinically evaluate a patient’s capacity, a clinician must consider whether an individual can understand information related to their condition, reason through different treatment options, and appreciate the consequences of their decisions. This includes, but is not limited to, the ability to:

  • Understand and remember relevant information
  • Make informed decisions
  • Weigh the risks and benefits of treatment options
  • Communicate their decision to others

Proving decisional capacity in California generally requires a psychological evaluation by a licensed psychologist. This will likely involve an interview, testing, and review of medical records. The report generated from this evaluation can then be used as evidence in court.

The capacity to make medical decisions is not an all-or-nothing proposition; it can vary depending on the patient’s condition, the complexity of the decision, and the patient’s ability to understand and communicate their wishes.

A formal assessment of capacity is often needed when there is doubt about an individual’s ability to make informed decisions about their medical care.

This is especially true when the patient is facing a complex decision, such as whether to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment.

Who Determines Decisional Capacity?

After observing and interviewing the patient, assessing decisional capacity is a clinical determination made by a healthcare professional, usually a psychiatrist or psychologist.

A patient’s mental status is usually assessed using a combination of clinical judgment, standardized testing, and a review of medical records.

In some cases, a neuropsychological evaluation may be warranted to assess an individual’s cognitive functioning more accurately.

Can a GP Assess Mental Capacity?

Yes, a GP can assess mental capacity. However, GPs are not always best-positioned to make this determination.

This is because they are not always familiar with the specific legal requirements for capacity or the clinical criteria used to assess it.

In addition, GPs may not have the time or resources to conduct a comprehensive assessment.

It is generally recommended that a psychiatrist or psychologist conduct a formal assessment.

Contact Dr. Stacey Wood for a Decisional Capacity Evaluation

If you need a decisional capacity evaluation, contact Dr. Stacey Wood, a decision capacity expert in California.

Dr. Stacey Wood is a neuropsychology expert specializing in assessing capacity. She has over 15 years of experience conducting capacity assessments in various settings, including assessments of older adults with diminished capacity, undue influence, testamentary capacity, financial elder abuse, and geropsychology.

If you think someone cannot make informed consent about their medical care, contact Dr. Wood for a consultation.

Contact Information

Dr. Stacey Wood, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychology; Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CA.

Phone: (909) 607-9505
Connect with Dr. Wood on LinkedIn

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