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Altered Handwriting Suggests Cognitive Impairment and May Be Relevant to Posthumous Evaluation


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Maurizio Balestrino, M.D.
Dipartimento di Neuroscienze
Oftalmologia e Genetica
Via De Toni 5
16132 Genova


Abstract:  Judging the validity of a disputed will is complex; however, one of the main issues is what the mental status of the testator was at the time of the will. If the will is handwritten, a handwriting analysis can provide information on the mental status of the testator. We tested how two writing parameters (the “writing score,” a novel evaluation scale that we previously described, and the percentage of spelling mistakes) are capable to identify cognitively impaired persons. These parameters are especially helpful because they can be used to evaluate the mental status of a deceased person. We found a significant correlation between either parameter and established scales of neuropsychological evaluation (Mini Mental State Examination and Milan Overall Dementia Assessment scale). Specifically, a poor score on either parameter reliably identified a compromised cognitive status. These may represent helpful additions to existing techniques in posthumously identifying persons with severe cognitive impairment.