Alleged Incapacitated Person (AIP) – An adult who is the subject of a pending guardianship petition filed with the Orphans’ Court.
Fiduciary – A person with a legal duty to act solely in the best interests of another person, being careful to avoid conflicts of interests or decisions that benefit oneself. Guardians, agents under powers of attorney, and trustees are all examples of fiduciaries.
Guardian – A fiduciary appointed by the Orphans’ Court to manage the personal and/or estate matters for an Incapacitated Person.
Guardian ad litem – A person who may be appointed by the Orphans’ Court to impartially investigate the facts, independently assess whether a guardian is in the best interests of the Alleged Incapacitated Person (AIP), and make a report to the Court.
Incapacitated Person (IP) – An adult for whom the Orphans’ Court has appointed a guardian. Pennsylvania law provides the following definition: “Incapacitated person” means an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that he is partially or totally unable to manage his financial resources or to meet essential requirements for his physical health and safety. 20 Pa. C.S. § 5501.
Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) – An assessment of the Alleged Incapacitated Person’s (AIP) capacity performed by a qualified professional, such as a specialized doctor, upon order of the Orphans’ Court. An IME is usually requested by an AIP who disagrees with the medical evaluation submitted by the person or entity petitioning for guardianship.
Orphans’ Court – The division of the Pennsylvania county’s Court of Common Pleas that handles guardianship matters. Officially called the “Orphans’ Division of the [County] Court of Common Pleas.” Each of Pennsylvania’s 63 judicial districts (covering all 67 counties) has an Orphans’ Court.
Petition – A written request to the court to issue an order or decree. A person or entity who submits a petition is called a “petitioner.”
Plenary – Unlimited or full, as in “plenary powers.” Contrast with limited.