A legal term used to denote capacity to act on one’s own behalf. The ability to understand information presented, to appreciate the consequences of acting (or not acting) on that information, and to make a choice. Competence may fluctuate as a function of the natural course of a mental illness, response to treatment, effects of medication, general physical health and other factors. Therefore, mental status should be reevaluated periodically. As a designation of legal status, competence or incompetence pertains to an adjudication in court proceedings that a person’s abilities are so diminished that his or her decisions or actions (e.g., writing a will) should have no legal effect. Such adjudications are often determined by inability to manage business or monetary affairs and do not necessarily reflect a person’s ability to function in other situations.