Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–2011. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Best interests” means promoting personal well-being by assessing:

(A) The reason for the proposed action, its risks and benefits, and any alternatives considered and rejected; and

(B) The least intrusive, least restrictive, and most normalizing course of action possible to provide for the needs of the individual.

(1A) “Case reviewer” means a social worker who is licensed in the District of Columbia and appointed by the court under § 21-2045.01(a).

(1B) “Claims” in respect to a protected individual, means liabilities of the protected individual, whether arising in contract, tort, or otherwise, and liabilities of the estate that arise at or after the appointment of a conservator, including expenses of administration.

(2) “Court” means the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(3) “Conservator” means a person who is appointed by a court to manage the estate of a protected individual and includes a limited conservator described in § 21-2066(a).

(4) “Counsel” means an attorney admitted to the practice of law in the District.

(5) “District” means District of Columbia.

(5A) “Domestic partner” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(3).

(5B) “Domestic partnership” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(4).

(5C) “Emergency care” means immediate treatment, including diagnostic treatment, provided in response to a sudden and acute medical crisis in order to avoid injury, extreme pain, impairment, or death.

(6) “Estate” means the property of the individual whose affairs are subject to this chapter.

(7) “Examiner” means an individual qualified by training or experience in the diagnosis, care, or treatment of the causes and conditions giving rise to the alleged incapacity, such as a gerontologist, psychiatrist, or qualified developmental disability professional.

(8) “Guardian” means a person who has qualified as a guardian of an incapacitated individual pursuant to court appointment, not including a guardian ad litem, but including:

(A) A temporary guardian appointed as described in § 21-2046 for a finite period of time to serve as:

(i) An emergency guardian whose authority may not extend beyond 21 days and who may exercise any powers granted by court order and not prohibited by law;

(ii) A health-care guardian whose authority is granted for up to 90 days and may be extended for up to an additional 90 days to provide substituted consent in accordance with § 21-2210 for an individual certified as incapacitated for a health-care decision; or

(iii) A provisional guardian whose authority is granted for a specified period not to exceed 6 months, upon the court’s finding that any guardian is not effectively performing duties and that the welfare of the incapacitated individual requires immediate action;

(B) A general guardian not limited by the court in scope as described in § 21-2044(c) or in time as described in § 21-2046; and

(C) A limited guardian whose powers are limited by the court as described in § 21-2044(c) and who is appointed for a finite period of time as described in § 21-2046 or for an indeterminate period of time.

(9) “Guardian ad litem” means an individual appointed by the court to assist the subject of an intervention proceeding to determine his or her interests in regard to the guardianship or protective proceeding or to make that determination if the subject of the intervention proceeding is unconscious or otherwise wholly incapable of determining his or her interest in the proceeding even with assistance.

(10) “Habilitation” means the process by which an individual is assisted to acquire and maintain those life skills that enable him or her to cope more effectively with the demands of his or her own person and of his or her own environment and to raise the level of his or her physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and economic efficiency.

(11) “Incapacitated individual” means an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively or to communicate decisions is impaired to such an extent that he or she lacks the capacity to manage all or some of his or her financial resources or to meet all or some essential requirements for his or her physical health, safety, habilitation, or therapeutic needs without court-ordered assistance or the appointment of a guardian or conservator.

(11A) “Incapacitated individual for health-care decisions” means an adult individual who lacks sufficient mental capacity to:

(A) Appreciate the nature and implications of a health-care decision;

(B) Make a choice regarding the alternatives presented; or

(C) Communicate that choice in an unambiguous manner.

(12) “Intervention proceeding” means any proceeding under this chapter.

(13) “Lease” means an oil, gas, or other mineral lease.

(14) “Letters” means letters of guardianship and letters of conservatorship.

(15) “Manage financial resources” means those actions necessary to obtain, administer, and dispose of real and personal property, intangible property, business property, benefits, and income.

(16) “Meet essential requirements for physical health or safety” means those actions necessary to provide health care, food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene, and other care without which serious physical injury or illness is more likely than not to occur.

(17) “Mortgage” means any conveyance, agreement, or arrangement in which property is used as collateral.

(18) “Organization” includes a corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, association, 2 or more persons having a joint or common interest, government, governmental subdivision or agency, or any other legal entity.

(19) “Person” means an individual or an organization.

(20) “Petition” means a written request to the court for an order after notice.

(21) “Property” means anything that may be the subject of ownership, and includes both real and personal property and any interest in real or personal property.

(22) “Protected individual” means an individual for whom a conservator has been appointed or other protective order has been made as provided in sections 21-2055 and 21-2056.

(23) “Protective proceeding” means a proceeding under the provisions of subchapter VI of this chapter.

(24) “Qualified developmental disability professional” means:

(A) A psychologist with at least a master’s degree from an accredited program and with specialized training or 1 year of experience in intellectual disabilities;

(B) A physician licensed to practice medicine in the District and with specialized training in intellectual disabilities or with 1 year of experience in treating individuals with intellectual disabilities;

(C) An educator with a degree in education from an accredited program and with specialized training or 1 year of experience in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities;

(D) A social worker with:

(i) A master’s degree from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (New York, New York), and with specialized training in intellectual disabilities or with 1 year of experience in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities; or

(ii) A bachelor’s degree from an undergraduate social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education who is currently working and continues to work under the supervision of a social worker as defined in subparagraph (D)(i) and who has specialized training in intellectual disabilities or 1 year of experience in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities;

(E) A rehabilitation counselor who is certified by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (Chicago, Illinois) and who has specialized training in intellectual disabilities or 1 year of experience in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities;

(F) A physical or occupational therapist with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program in physical or occupational therapy and who has specialized training or 1 year of experience in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities; or

(G) A therapeutic recreation specialist who is a graduate of an accredited program and who has specialized training or 1 year of experience in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

(25) “Security” means any:

(A) Note;

(B) Stock;

(C) Treasury stock;

(D) Bond debenture;

(E) Evidence of indebtedness;

(F) Certificate of interest or participation in an oil, gas, or mining title or lease or in payments out of production under such a title or lease;

(G) Collateral trust certificate;

(H) Transferable share;

(I) Voting trust certificate; or

(J) Interest or instrument commonly known as a security, certificate of interest or participation, temporary or interim certificate, receipt, certificate of deposit for, or any warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase any of the foregoing.

(25A) “Substituted judgment” means making a decision that conforms as closely as possible with the decision that the individual would have made, based upon the knowledge of the beliefs, values, and preferences of the individual.

(26) “Visitor” means a person appointed in a guardianship or protective proceeding who is an officer, employee, or special appointee of the court and who has no personal interest in the proceeding.

(27) “Ward” means an individual for whom a guardian has been appointed.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-204, § 2(a), 34 DCR 632; Mar. 24, 1998, D.C. Law 12-81, § 14(r), 45 DCR 745; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 7(a), 53 DCR 1035; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-305, § 35(c)(1), 53 DCR 6198; Oct. 22, 2008, D.C. Law 17-249, § 2(b), 55 DCR 9206; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-169, § 21(h)(2), 59 DCR 5567; Mar. 11, 2015, D.C. Law 20-230, § 2(b), 62 DCR 278.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-2011.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1901 and § 21-2051.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-79 added pars. (5A) and (5B).

D.C. Law 16-305, in par. (24), substituted “individuals with mental retardation” for “mentally retarded individuals”.

D.C. Law 17-249 redesignated former par. (1) as par. (1A); added pars. (1), (5C), (11A), (25A); and rewrote par. (8), which had read as follows: “(8) ‘Guardian’ means a person who has qualified as a guardian of an incapacitated individual pursuant to court appointment and includes a limited guardian as described in section 21-2044(c), but excludes one who is merely a guardian ad litem.”

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-169 substituted “developmental disability” for “mental retardation” in (7) and in the introductory language of (24); and substituted “intellectual disabilities” for “mental retardation” wherever it appears in (24).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-230 redesignated (1A) as (1B); and added (1A).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Mentally Retarded Citizens Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-554, December 30, 1998, 45 DCR 566).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Mentally Retarded Citizens Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-56, April 16, 1999, 46 DCR 4289).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Mentally Retarded Citizens Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-56, April 16, 1999, 46 DCR 3858).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-202, December 1, 1999, 47 DCR 134).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-285, March 7, 2000, 47 DCR 2033).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-455, November 7, 2000, 47 DCR 9415).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-3, February 13, 2001, 48 DCR 2251).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-143, October 23, 2001, 48 DCR 9944).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-246, January 28, 2002, 49 DCR 1040).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-514, October 23, 2002, 49 DCR 10480).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-602, January 7, 2003, 50 DCR 684).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Emergency Amendment Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-234, November 25, 2003, 50 DCR 10734).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-359, February 19, 2004, 51 DCR 2578).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted for Health Care Decisions Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-558, October 26, 2004, 51 DCR 10375).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Citizens with Mental Retardation Substituted Consent for Health Care Decisions Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-6, January 19, 2005, 52 DCR 2683).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-190, October 28, 2005, 52 DCR 10021).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-262, January 26, 2006, 53 DCR 795).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-480, September 25, 2006, 53 DCR 7940).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-566, December 19, 2006, 53 DCR 10272).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Emergency Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-161, October 18, 2007, 54 DCR 10932).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-245, January 23, 2008, 55 DCR 1230).

For temporary (90 day) amendment, see § 2(b) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Emergency Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-492, August 4, 2008, 55 DCR 9167).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 12-249 added (5A) to read as follows: For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

“(5A) ”Emergency care“ means immediate treatment, including diagnostic treatment, provided in response to a sudden, acute, and unanticipated medical crisis in order to avoid injury, extreme pain, impairment, or death.”

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 12-249 provided that this act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2 (a) of D.C. Law 13-88 added a definition of emergency care.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 13-88 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 13-221 added par. (5A) which defined “emergency care”.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 13-221 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 14-64 added par. (5A) to read as follows:

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 14-64 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 14-241 added par. (5A) to read as follows:

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 14-241 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 15-98 added par. (5A) to read as follows:

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 15-98 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 15-245 added par. (5A) to read as follows:

“(5A) ‘Emergency care’ means immediate treatment, including diagnostic treatment, provided in response to a sudden, acute, and unanticipated medical crisis in order to avoid injury, extreme pain, impairment, or death.”.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 15-245 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 16-46 added par. (5A) to read as follows:

“(5A) ‘Emergency care’ means immediate treatment, including diagnostic treatment, provided in response to a sudden, acute, and unanticipated medical crisis in order to avoid injury, extreme pain, impairment, or death.”

Section 6(b) of D.C. Law 16-46 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(b) of D.C. Law 16-194 redesignated par. (1) as par. (1A), added pars. (1), (5C), (11A), and (25A), and amended par. (8) to read as follows:

“(1) ‘Best interests’ means promoting personal well-being by assessing:

“(A) The reason for the proposed action, its risks and benefits, and any alternatives considered and rejected; and

“(B) The least intrusive, least restrictive, and most normalizing course of action possible to provide for the needs of the individual.”

“(5C) ‘Emergency care’ means immediate treatment, including diagnostic treatment, provided in response to a sudden, acute, and unanticipated medical crisis in order to avoid injury, extreme pain, impairment, or death.”

“(8) ‘Guardian’ means a person other than a guardian ad litem who has qualified as a guardian of an incapacitated individual pursuant to court appointment, and includes:

“(A) A limited guardian whose powers are limited by the court as described in section 21-2044(c);

“(B) A temporary guardian appointed as described in section 21-2046 for a finite period of time to serve as:

“(i) An emergency guardian whose authority may not extend beyond 15 days and who may exercise any powers granted by court order and not prohibited by law;

“(ii) A health-care guardian whose authority is granted for up to 90 days and may be extended for up to an additional 90 days to provide substituted consent in accordance with section 21-2210 for an individual certified as incapacitated for a health-care decision; or

“(iii) A provisional guardian whose authority is granted for a specified period not to exceed 6 months, upon the court’s finding that any guardian is not effectively performing duties and that the welfare of the incapacitated individual requires immediate action; and

“(C) A general guardian not limited by the court in scope as described in section 21-2044(c) or in time as described in section

Editor's Notes

Section 35 of D.C. Law 19-169 provided that no provision of the act shall impair any right or obligation existing under law.