Guardianship for Gravely Disabled Persons
A person becomes an adult at age 18 and has the rights of an adult, including the right to refuse medical
treatment, even treatment for a mental disorder.
Sometimes, a person with a mental disorder may be so severely disabled that someone else must make decisions
about his or her mental health treatment.
If the court decides that the person is "gravely disabled," the judge may appoint a Guardian with special
authority to make mental health treatment decisions. This Guardian is called a "Title 36 Guardian."
A Title 36 Guardian of a gravely disabled person has the powers and responsibilities of a general Guardian,
including duties to provide the ward with food, clothing and shelter, education, rehabilitation, medical care and
mental health treatment.
The Guardian must try all medical treatments possible before considering in-patient hospitalization for mental
health treatment for the ward. Also, the Title 36 court order will state whether the Title 36 Guardian has the
power to admit or readmit the ward to a mental hospital without further court order.
The authority of the Title 36 Guardian ends in 12 months if another court order continuing the Title 36 Guardian's
powers is not issued. The judge might order the Guardian's powers renewed for another year.
In some instances a person with a serious mental disorder may need immediate mental health treatment but is
unwilling or unable to consent to treatment. In such cases it may be appropriate for the court to order treatment
of the person in a mental health facility. If you are faced with this situation, refer to our Resources
find assistance with emergency mental health treatment.