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WHEN CAN SOMEONE BE DECLARED LEGALLY INCOMPETENT? If a loved one is experiencing memory loss or suddenly making poor decisions, you may want the court to appoint a guardian, which requires a declaration of incompetence. Determining whether someone is competent to make their own decisions is a complicated process. If a loved one is unable to make decisions for him or herself, the court may appoint a substitute decision maker, often called a "guardian," but in some states called a "conservator" or other term. A guardian is only appointed as a last resort if less restrictive alternatives, such as a power of attorney, are not in place or are not working. The standard under which a person is deemed to require a guardian differs from state to state. In some states the standards are different depending on whether a complete guardianship or a conservatorship over finances only is being sought. Generally, a person is judged to be in need of guardianship when he or she sho

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