Do you know what it means for a court to declare someone incapacitated? In a perfect world, everyone would live a long, healthy life. But we know that’s not always the case. Unforeseen circumstances can change a person’s journey in an instant. If they can’t think clearly, it could interfere with their ability to make critical decisions. In these situations, a judge might find the individual mentally incapable. Keep reading to learn all about the process.
Defining Mental Incapacity
Most importantly, incapacitated means a person is no longer of sound mind or capable of making complex decisions. Typically, adults manage their own financial and medical affairs. But if a person’s cognition or mental awareness declines—due to age, injury, or illness—a judge will appoint a guardian or conservator on their behalf.
Declaring Incapacity in Georgia
Consequently, not everyone with dementia or physical ailments is incompetent. Many continue making just decisions even with life-altering conditions. That’s why a strict process is in place to declare a loved one incapacitated. So, only a court can determine if a person meets the qualifications or not. Here are the steps to take:
File a Guardianship Petition
First of all, who makes decisions when another person no longer can? A guardian or conservator. Filing a petition for guardianship is the first step in declaring someone incompetent. Don’t have someone in mind? The court will do it for you if you don’t name a guardian now. Georgia law requires you to file the petition with a local probate court in the same country where the person lives.
Talk with a Personal Family Attorney
In Georgia, you don’t need legal representation to file a petition. But some judges won’t hear the case without one. Consult with a lawyer to learn your rights regarding guardianships and incompetency proceedings.
Complete a Psychological Evaluation
In addition, the court won’t declare incompetency solely on your word. You must schedule a complete psychological evaluation with a licensed professional. To meet the criteria for incapacitation, an individual must:
- Lack the capacity to make responsible personal decisions
- Demonstrate deficits in behavior
- Be unable to meet personal needs for medical care, nutrition, safety, or shelter
After completing the evaluation, submit the report to the court for review.
Attend the Hearing
Finally, during the hearing, your lawyer will present evidence to support the findings of the psychological evaluation. Examples may include financial, medical, or legal documents. If the judge agrees with the evidence, they will declare the individual legally incapacitated.
Compassionate Legal Representation When It Matters Most
Watching a loved one lose the ability to care for themselves is heartbreaking. However, if they can no longer make sound decisions, it’s time to intervene. And although hard to accept, declaring incompetence is often the best solution. But, it’s not an easy process to navigate alone.
Arch Legacy Firm isn’t a “traditional” law firm. We fight for the needs and rights of families, professionals, minors, special needs, and the elderly. We’ll help you make sense of the legal system during difficult times. Our knowledge of guardianships, trusts, and probates will ensure the well-being of your loved ones.
So, do you have a loved one struggling to make decisions in their best interest? Schedule a consultation with Arch Legacy Firm to discuss the next steps to declare someone incapacitated.