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The Probate Division of the Court of Common Pleas has exclusive jurisdiction to appoint guardians. The court acts as an extension of the state for purposes of protecting the person and/or the estate of one who is found incapable of managing his own affairs. All the powers necessary to carry out the court’s appointment order are delegated to the guardian, who is an agent and, thus, under the control of the court.

An “incompetent person” is any person who is so mentally impaired as a result of a mental or physical illness or disability, or mental retardation, or as a result of chronic substance abuse, that he is incapable of taking proper care of himself or his property or fails to provide for his family or other persons for whom he is charged by law to provide, or any person confined to a penal institution within this state.

An “Emergency Guardian” may be appointed when no regular guardian was ever ordered and an incompetent or minor requires immediate action because of a significant risk to the ward’s person or estate. The emergency guardianship is a form of limited guardianship in that the court must specify in the letters of appointment exactly which powers have been granted. The emergency guardianship may last no longer than 72 hours.