Guardianship of an incapacitated person refers to the authority to make decisions on behalf of an adult individual who has been adjudicated as such by the court. The standard for incapacity involves an analysis of whether the individual can manage their financial resources and/or meet essential requirements for their own health and safety. The first step for a party interested in pursuing guardianship of someone is to file a petition with the court. At the time of filing the petition, the proposed guardian must now submit record of criminal background search from the Pennsylvania State Police. Additionally, if the incapacitated person suffers from mental health issues, a notice of mental health commitment form should be included.

The opinion of a medical expert regarding the extent of the incapacity and the potential necessity for a guardian is required. The Rules now provide for the expert to complete an expert report which may replace requirement of physical testimony in court. The Petitioner has the burden to prove incapacity by clear and convincing evidence. Notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition must be served on the individual for whom guardianship is sought (Respondent) explaining in plain language the possible ramifications of the forthcoming legal proceedings. Notice must also be given to additional interested parties such as family members.  By April M. Townsend