Q:

How do you declare someone mentally incompetent?

A:

Declaring someone mentally incompetent involves a legal process that includes a psychological examination by a licensed doctor and a final ruling by a probate court judge, according to The Law Dictionary. It may be necessary to obtain a court order if the person refuses the examination.

The process begins when filing a form with the probate court seeking a declaration of mental incompetence. After filing this form, The Law Dictionary explains that the petitioner also has the opportunity to file an application to be the person's guardian and become responsible for their financial affairs. Courts view this as a serious matter because it seeks to take away some rights from the individual. It often helps to have a doctor assist in filing the initial papers.

Once the papers are filed, the person must be evaluated by a doctor. If the person refuses to cooperate, the petitioner must go back to the probate court and request a court order to force the evaluation. The petitioner must submit the results of the evaluation to the court, which then decides if the person is incompetent and if the person seeking to be the guardian is qualified, as explained by The Law Dictionary. Courts often require a bond to protect all the financial assets and property of the person deemed incompetent. A competent guardianship lawyer is a good ally throughout the entire process.

For instances in which no appropriate guardian is available, local health departments often offer guardianship services, as explained by the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services. There are also different types of guardians, including guardian of the person, guardian of the estate and general guardian.

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