Chapter 35A.

Incompetency and Guardianship.

SUBCHAPTER I. PROCEEDINGS TO DETERMINE INCOMPETENCE.

Article 1.

Determination of Incompetence.

35A-1101. Definitions.

When used in this Subchapter:

(1) "Autism" means a physical disorder of the brain which causes disturbances in the developmental rate of physical, social, and language skills; abnormal responses to sensations; absence of or delay in speech or language; or abnormal ways of relating to people, objects, and events. Autism occurs sometimes by itself and sometimes in conjunction with other brain-functioning disorders.

(2) "Cerebral palsy" means a muscle dysfunction, characterized by impairment of movement, often combined with speech impairment, and caused by abnormality of or damage to the brain.

(3) "Clerk" means the clerk of superior court.

(4) "Designated agency" means the State or local human services agency designated by the clerk in the clerk's order to prepare, cause to be prepared, or assemble a multidisciplinary evaluation and to perform other functions as the clerk may order. A designated agency includes, without limitation, State, local, regional, or area mental health, mental retardation, vocational rehabilitation, public health, social service, and developmental disabilities agencies, and diagnostic evaluation centers.

(5) "Epilepsy" means a group of neurological conditions characterized by abnormal electrical-chemical discharge in the brain. This discharge is manifested in various forms of physical activity called seizures, which range from momentary lapses of consciousness to convulsive movements.

(6) "Guardian ad litem" means a guardian appointed pursuant to G.S. 1A-1, Rule 17, Rules of Civil Procedure.

(7) "Incompetent adult" means an adult or emancipated minor who lacks sufficient capacity to manage the adult's own affairs or to make or communicate important decisions concerning the adult's person, family, or property whether the lack of capacity is due to mental illness, mental retardation, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, inebriety, senility, disease, injury, or similar cause or condition.

(8) "Incompetent child" means a minor who is at least 17 1/2 years of age and who, other than by reason of minority, lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate important decisions concerning the child's person, family, or property whether the lack of capacity is due to mental illness, mental retardation, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, inebriety, disease, injury, or similar cause or condition.

(9) "Indigent" means unable to pay for legal representation and other necessary expenses of a proceeding brought under this Subchapter.

(10) "Inebriety" means the habitual use of alcohol or drugs rendering a person incompetent to transact ordinary business concerning the person's estate, dangerous to person or property, cruel and intolerable to family, or unable to provide for family.

(11) "Interim guardian" means a guardian, appointed prior to adjudication of incompetence and for a temporary period, for a person who requires immediate intervention to address conditions that constitute imminent or foreseeable risk of harm to the person's physical well-being or to the person's estate.

(12) "Mental illness" means an illness that so lessens the capacity of a person to use self-control, judgment, and discretion in the conduct of the person's affairs and social relations as to make it necessary or advisable for the person to be under treatment, care, supervision, guidance, or control. The term "mental illness" encompasses "mental disease", "mental disorder", "lunacy", "unsoundness of mind", and "insanity".

(13) "Mental retardation" means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested before age 22.

(14) "Multidisciplinary evaluation" means an evaluation that contains current medical, psychological, and social work evaluations as directed by the clerk and that may include current evaluations by professionals in other disciplines, including without limitation education, vocational rehabilitation, occupational therapy, vocational therapy, psychiatry, speech-and-hearing, and communications disorders. The evaluation is current if made not more than one year from the date on which it is presented to or considered by the court. The evaluation shall set forth the nature and extent of the disability and recommend a guardianship plan and program.

(15) "Respondent" means a person who is alleged to be incompetent in a proceeding under this Subchapter.

(16) "Treatment facility" has the same meaning as "facility" in G.S. 122C-3(14), and includes group homes, halfway houses, and other community-based residential facilities.

(17) "Ward" means a person who has been adjudicated incompetent or an adult or minor for whom a guardian has been appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction. (1987, c. 550, s. 1; 1989, c. 473, s. 11; 1997-443, s. 11A.11.)