District of Columbia Guardianship Law

Under District of Columbia Guardianship Law, a guardian is a person appointed by the local court to make healthcare decisions for an incapacitated person. Under District of Columbia Guardianship Law Section 21­2011(11) of the D.C. Code, an incapacitated individual is defined as “an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively or to communicate decisions is impaired to such an extent that [they] lack the capacity to manage all of some of [their] financial resources or to meet all or some essential requirements for [their] physical health, safety, habilitation, or therapeutic needs without court­-ordered assistance.” Section 13­705(b) of the Maryland code recognizes a similar meaning of incapacity. In Maryland, an individual is considered incapacitated if there is “clear and convincing evidence that a person lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his person, including provisions for health care.”

In many states, a guardian may also be appointed in other circumstances. For example, Maryland allows the court to appoint a guardian for a minor or someone suffering from a serious drug addiction. This article, however, only focuses on guardianships for incapacitated individuals.