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An Incapacitated Person is an adult, age 18 or older, who cannot manage his or her own financial affairs, health decisions or both. The legal definition of an Incapacitated Person is: “An adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and to make and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that he or she is partially or totally unable to manage his or her financial resources or to meet essential requirements for his or her physical health and safety.”An Incapacitated Person may be a developmentally disabled adult or an adult who has lost the capacity to make and communicate decisions due to illness or injury. When a Petition is filed with the Court, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether or not the Court should issue a decree declaring that a person is an Incapacitated Person and a Guardian or Guardians should be appointed. If there is no less restrictive alternative to guardianship that is appropriate, a Guardian may be appointed.
A Final Decree may appoint one person as Guardian of the Person and another person as Guardian of the Estate of the Incapacitated Person, or may appoint one person to serve in both roles. The Court may also appoint co-Guardians of the Person or Estate. The Guardian of the Estate generally handles financial affairs while the Guardian of the Person handles health and life decisions.
The role of either Guardian is to represent the rights and best interests of the Incapacitated Person. The Guardian should honor the expressed wishes and preferences of the Incapacitated Person to the greatest extent possible. The Guardian must always act in the best interests of the Incapacitated Person.