In ageing societies, questions of participation of elderly people in social life and the possibilities of a self-determined life in old age are of high importance. The state is confronted increasingly with the task of protecting personal rights of older and incompetent persons. In various societies, the way of protection ranges from paternalistic interventions to approaches stressing autonomy and support of those persons. The article is concerned with the phenomenon of guardianship of incompetent elderly (i.e. persons over 60 years of age) in the Czech Republic. It is based on the international project Advocacies for Frail and Incompetent Elderly in Europe (ADEL) aimed at comparing adult guardianship systems in five European countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and Spain). The findings inspired a national study a part of which is presented in the article. The essential aims of the national study were: (a) to identify socio-demographic and epidemiologic data on incompetent elderly; (b) to identify socio-demographic data on their guardians. The method was study of documents (court records) and the data collection technique was content analysis. The first and second parts outline the theoretical and methodological framework of guardianship. The third part presents research results. The final part compares the empirical reality in the Czech Republic and selected EU countries participating in the ADEL project.