Guardianship of an Adult

Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. LSC Funded


An "incapacitated person" is a person of eighteen (18) years or older who is impaired by reason of mental illness, physical illness or disability, substance dependency, or such similar cause; causing the person to lack the ability to care for his physical safety or financial resources. If the proposed ward is under the age of eighteen (18) years, see Minors.


Purpose of Adult Guardianship

An adult who is incapacitated or partially incapacitated may need help taking care of their physical health and financial resources. A court appointed guardian can help ensure that the individual in question has help making these decisions.

Forms of Guardianship:


In Oklahoma, there are three basic types of guardianship:

  • General  A "general" guardianship is a guardian who has control over the ward and/or all of the ward's property in Oklahoma.
  • Limited A "limited" guardian is a guardian who only has limited powers over the ward and/or the ward's property.
  • Special  A "special" guardian is a guardian who is appointed for an emergency purpose. Usually, these do not last for more than thirty (30) days.


Procedure to Attain Adult Guardianship

To obtain adult guardianship, a person must submit a petition specifying:

The names and addresses of persons entitled to notice.

The nature and degree of the alleged incapacity.

The relief requested and the facts supporting that relief.

The estimated value of the intangible personal property of the ward.

It may also be necessary to submit copies of professional evaluations of the individual in question as well as guardianship plans.


The court will generally make an investigation of the background of the prospective guardian, including previous criminal and civil matters.


Self-Nomination of Guardian (Adults)

An adult of eighteen (18) years or older, who is of sound mind and not acting under duress, fraud, or influence, may nominate a guardian of his person or property. Upon incapacitation, this nomination shall be binding once approved by the court. This nomination must be in writing. A person nominated may be unwilling or may not qualify to serve.

Guardianship Priority List For an Incapacitated Adult


The following list is the order of priority for an individual to take guardianship rights over an incapacitated adult:

  • Individual nominated by the subject
  • Current guardian appointed by another court
  • An individual nominated by the will of another guardian
  • The spouse of the subject
  • An adult child
  • A parent of the subject
  • A sibling of the subject
  • An individual living with the subject for more than six (6) months and approved by court


Rights of Incapacitated Adults

An individual alleged to be incapacitated has the right to:

  • Receive notice of the hearing
  • Be present at the hearing
  • Have witnesses present
  • Present evidence
  • Cross-examine witnesses


An individual alleged to be incapacitated may also be appointed an attorney by the court, called a "Guardian Ad Litem."

For more information on becoming or receiving court-ordered adult guardian, you may click here for a list of Legal Aid resources. You may click here to reference the Legal Aid information and lawyer referral service.


Individuals in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living and Residential Care Facilities have certain rights, too. Learn more here

Learn about being a volunteer with the Ombudsman Program or filing a complaint here

Download - Know Your Rights - Residents' Rights in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, & Residential Care

Last Review and Update: Sep 03, 2019

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