Orders of Protective Custody

As probate practitioners, we often work with families who need help for an individual who does not want help or believe that he or she needs help. In some circumstances, we can obtain a guardianship, or if there is an urgent physical or financial situation, a temporary guardianship. However, at other times, when the circumstances are dire, it is possible to apply for an Order of Protective Custody. (Although if there is a true physical emergency, always call law enforcement first.)


An Order of Protective Custody can be appropriate when the person is:

  • Likely to cause serious harm to him/herself
  • Likely to cause serious harm to others
  • Suffering severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical distress
  • Unable to care for his or her basic needs such as health, safety, clothing, and food
  • Unable to make a rational decision concerning whether to submit to treatment.


Along with the application for Order of Protective Custody, the applicant must obtain a physician’s evaluation, which must be completed by a physician who has seen the person within the three days prior to the filing of the application.