Mental Competency Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Mental Competency, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Mental Competency?

(n) Mental competency is the measure of mental ability of a person to do any act enter in to any contract with required presence of mind. An agreement is void if it is executed with an external influence like coercion, threatening, lunacy, affects of alcohol, narcotics etc, on any of the parties. So mental competency means the state of mind without external influences.

History and Meaning of Mental Competency

Mental competency is a concept that has been around for centuries, dating back to ancient Greece and the idea of the "sound mind" requirement for making legal decisions. In modern legal contexts, mental competency generally refers to a person's ability to understand the nature and consequences of a legal proceeding or decision, and to effectively participate in it.

Examples of Mental Competency

  1. In a criminal trial, a defendant's mental competency may be evaluated to determine if they are able to stand trial and understand the charges against them.
  2. In estate planning, a person must be deemed mentally competent in order to make a will or other legal documents.
  3. In a civil lawsuit, a person's mental competency may be evaluated to determine if they are able to represent themselves in court or if a guardian needs to be appointed to represent them.

Legal Terms Similar to Mental Competency

  1. Capacity: Similar to mental competency, capacity refers to a person's ability to make legal decisions.
  2. Undue influence: This refers to external factors, such as coercion, that may affect a person's ability to make decisions on their own.
  3. Incompetence: This is a broader term that can refer to a person's overall ability to function in society, including their ability to care for themselves and make decisions.