How to declare someone mentally incompetent

Donald Cook/

People are considered mentally incompetent if they suffer from a disorder or illness that renders them unable to make sound judgments concerning their welfare or the welfare of others whom they are responsible for. If this happens to someone you love, it may be necessary to take legal steps to have the person declared incompetent so you or someone else can assume the role of guardian to oversee the person's legal, financial and lifestyle decisions.

Contact the probate court in the area where the person resides or claims permanent residence. Request the appropriate forms for declaring a person mentally incompetent. This generally requires you to file a request for guardianship.

Retain a mental health or guardianship lawyer to guide you in completing the appropriate forms and securing documentation to support your claims.

Seek a psychological evaluation of the person by a qualified professional. If the person does not submit to the evaluation voluntarily, you will need to request the court to order the evaluation.

Submit the Statement of Expert Evaluation with the application to the court. The court will decide whether or not the person is mentally incompetent and whether or not you are a suitable guardian. The court may require that you be bonded by an insurance company to protect the financial assets of the individual. Your lawyer can assist in seeking appropriate bonding from a reputable source. Certain credit problems or criminal history may prevent you from being bonded. Your lawyer will be able to assist you if you have questionable history.

Contact the adult protective services office in your area if you are concerned about an adult who appears to be mentally incompetent, even if you do not wish to be guardian. They will investigate and evaluate the situation and appoint an appropriate guardian if the person is deemed mentally incompetent.

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