How to Have a Mentally Ill Adult Declared Incompetent

How to Have a Mentally Ill Adult Declared Incompetent thumbnail

Age, disease and injury can occasionally render an adult incapable of effectively managing affairs or making wise decisions. In cases like this, friends or family members of the afflicted adult can, through legal processes, have the mentally ill adult declared incompetent. If the court agrees that the adult is incompetent, in accordance with the standards of state law, a guardian, who will usually be a relative, will be granted the authority to make legal decisions for the mentally ill adult.

    Compile evidence of the mentally ill adult’s incapacity, which is defined as the inability to make good decisions about one’s well-being. Take pictures, dated notes and video to present to the court when the incompetence proceedings begin. Gather medical records, police reports or any other relevant documents that concern the ill adult.

    Hire a lawyer, if desired, to help you understand the relevant state laws and statutes concerning mental incompetence, and to help you file for guardianship.

    Go to the probate court that is located in the same county as the mentally ill adult. Ask for a petition for guardianship, or have your lawyer file the necessary documents. Follow all the instructions the court gives you and wait for the court to schedule a guardianship hearing.

    Arrive in court on the date of the guardianship hearing. Dress professionally and show up several minutes early. Bring all the evidence of incapacity you gathered. Present the evidence personally, or via your lawyer, to the court, and thoughtfully answer any questions of the court. Make the case that the mentally ill adult is unable to care for herself in any meaningful way, and will be placed in physical danger if not declared legally incompetent.

    Recommend a guardian for the adult if the court agrees the ill adult, or ward, is legally incapacitated; you can recommend yourself or a friend or relative of the ward. Give evidence that you or your nominee will be able to faithfully execute the duties of a guardian. Abide by the final decision of the court.

Tips & Warnings

  • Focus on the adult’s complete lack of faculty when making decisions, instead of compiling a list of poor choices.

  • Make the case for incapacity as strong as you possibly can; the courtroom standard for incapacity is high, and your evidence must demonstrate the inability of the adult to manage their lives independently and keep themselves safe.

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