An adult ward of the state is an individual, 18 years of age and older, who is deemed incapacitated or incompetent in making decisions due to physical or mental disabilities, according to the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute. A judge determines if a person becomes an adult ward.
For designated adult wards of the state, the courts appoint a guardian to advocate for the best interests of the adult as guided by state and local statutes once the adult is declared incapacitated or incompetent, explains the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute. Guardians are required to act in the best interest of the adult ward and may possess limited or full authority over the individual. For example, some guardians have complete control over an adult ward's property, finances, medical care and living arrangements.
A person who acts as a guardian for an adult ward is entitled to compensation and reimbursement for expenses incurred on behalf of the adult ward, notes the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute. When a person is an adult ward of the state, the guardian typically represents the adult ward in legal actions when pursing claims, defending claims or accepting and declining settlements.