Incapacitated Person (Guardianship) Law & Legal Definition


An incapacitated person is an individual for whom a guardianship proceeding is initiated. S/he has been determined by court as lacking the capacity to manage at least some of the property or to meet at least some of the essential health and safety requirements.

An incapacitated person may not be able to make or communicate responsible personal decisions. S/he exhibits an inability to meet his/her own personal needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, or safety. If a person cannot make decisions on any of the issues a general guardian will be appointed. If the person has disability only in limited areas, then a limited guardian is sufficient. A minor may not come under the definition of incapacitated person under certain statutes and is treated separately.

The following is an example of a state statute (Pennsylvania) defining the term:

According to 20 Pa.C.S. § 5501, an incapacitated person means “an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that he is partially or totally unable to manage his financial resources or to meet essential requirements for his physical health and safety.”