When a person is incapacitated and can’t manage their own affairs, a court can name someone to help. Incapacitated means the person is so impaired that they don’t have the understanding or ability to make or communicate good and safe personal decisions. They can’t meet personal needs for medical care, food, clothing, shelter or safety, or take care of finances, even with help. A court decides if someone is incapacitated.
A person is not automatically incapacitated because they have a certain diagnosis like Alzheimer’s Disease or because they have a developmental disability. The court reviews a lot of things besides a diagnosis when deciding if someone is incapacitated or not.
The court may decide to give a guardian or conservator power to make decisions in some but not all areas of a person’s life. This is called a Limited Guardianship or Conservatorship. A full Guardianship or Conservatorship is usually considered a last resort when no other supports have effectively helped a person.
In a guardianship or conservatorship, the person who needs help does not lose important rights, like the right to vote or the right to personal privacy, unless the court has a good reason and makes a specific order.