An incompetent adult or minor child may have the assistance of a court appointed guardian. An individual is determined incompetent if s/he is mentally impaired due to mental or physical illness or disability, mental retardation or chronic substance abuse to the point that s/he cannot take proper care of him/herself, his/her property or those for whom s/he is legally responsible. The court will determine an individual is incompetent and in need of a guardian of the person if the court finds that due to the impairment the person is unable to effectively receive and evaluate information or to make or communicate decisions to the extent that s/he is unable to prevent financial exploitation.
The court may give the guardian authority to make personal decisions for the ward, including providing informed consent for health care and medication. This type of guardian is a “guardian of the person.” The court also can give the guardian authority to manage the ward’s money and property. This type of guardian is a “guardian of the estate.”