Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter I. General Provisions.


§ 21–2001. Rule of construction; purposes.

(a) This chapter shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes and policies.

(b) The underlying purposes and policies of this chapter are to:

(1) Simplify and clarify the law concerning the affairs of missing individuals, protected individuals, and incapacitated individuals;

(2) Promote a speedy and efficient system for managing and protecting the estates of protected individuals so that assets may be preserved for application to the needs of protected individuals and their dependents; and

(3) Provide a system of general and limited guardianships for incapacitated individuals and coordinate guardianships and protective proceedings concerned with management and protection of estates of incapacitated individuals.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-204, § 2(a), 34 DCR 632.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-2001.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 21-2203, § 21-2401.02, and § 21-2403.02.

Cross References

Presumption of capacity, health care decisions, see § 21-2203.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 1-102 of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act (1982 Act).


§ 21–2002. Supplementary general principles of law applicable.

(a) Unless displaced by the particular provisions of this chapter, the principles of law and equity supplement its provisions.

(b) Nothing in this chapter shall operate to repeal, alter, or amend the rights of an individual who is the subject of a petition for civil commitment in any proceeding under Chapter 5 of Title 21, or the Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities Constitutional Rights and Dignity Act of 1978, effective November 8, 1978 (D.C. Law 2-137; D.C. Official Code, § 7-1301.01 et seq.).

(c) Nothing in this chapter shall affect any guardian or conservator appointed by the court upon a petition filed prior to the effective date of this chapter.

(d) An individual shall be presumed competent and to have the capacity to make legal, health-care, and all other decisions for himself or herself, unless certified otherwise under section 21-2204 or deemed incapacitated or incompetent by a court. Incapacity shall not be inferred from the fact that an individual:

(1) Has been voluntarily or involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness pursuant to Chapter 5 of Title 21; or

(2) Has an intellectual disability or has been determined by a court to be incompetent to refuse commitment under Chapter 13 of Title 7.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-204, § 2(a), 34 DCR 632; Sept. 22, 1989, D.C. Law 8-34, § 2(b), 36 DCR 5035; Oct. 22, 2008, D.C. Law 17-249, § 2(a), 55 DCR 9206; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-169, § 21(h)(1), 59 DCR 5567.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-2002.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-249 added subsec. (d).

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-169 substituted “Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities” for “Mentally Retarded Citizens” in (b); and substituted “an intellectual disability” for “mental retardation” in (d)(2).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) 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(a) 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(a) 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(a) 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(a) 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 16-194 added subsec. (d) to read as follows:

Section 6(b) of D.C. Law 16-194 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 2(a) of D.C. Law 17-100 added subsec. (d) to read as follows:

“(d) An individual shall be presumed competent and to have the capacity to make legal, health-care, and all other decisions for himself or herself, unless certified otherwise under section 21-2204 or deemed incapacitated or incompetent by a court. Incapacity shall not be inferred from the fact that an individual:

“(1) Has been voluntarily or involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness pursuant to Chapter 5 of Title 21; or

“(2) Has mental retardation or has been determined by a court to be incompetent to refuse commitment under Chapter 13 of Title 7.”

Section 6(b) of D.C. Law 17-100 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

References in Text

The “effective date of this chapter,” referred to in subsection (c), is February 28, 1987.

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 1-103 of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act (1982 Act).

Section 21(h)(1) of D.C. Law 19-169 purported to amend (d)(1) by substituting “developmental disability” for “mental retardation”; as that language does not appear in (d)(1), but does appear in (d)(2), the change has been effected there.

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


§ 21–2003. Standard of proof.

In proceedings under this chapter for the appointment of a guardian or conservator, either general or limited, or subsequent proceedings in which the powers of a guardian or conservator are sought to be enlarged, the petitioner or moving party shall present clear and convincing evidence that the appointment or enlargement of powers is warranted.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-204, § 2(a), 34 DCR 632.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-2003.

Editor's Notes

For legislative history of D.C. Law 6-204, see Historical and Statutory Notes following § 21-2001.


§ 21–2004. Effect of a finding of incapacity.

A finding under this chapter that an individual is incapacitated shall not constitute a finding of legal incompetence. An individual found to be incapacitated shall retain all legal rights and abilities other than those expressly limited or curtailed in the order of appointment of a guardian or in a protective proceeding, or subsequent order of the court.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-204, § 2(a), 34 DCR 632.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-2004.