Guardianships for adults, now governed by RCW 11.130, is a legal mechanism by which one individual or entity (a guardian) is appointed by a court to exercise certain decision making functions on behalf of, and in the place of, an individual that is legally “incapacitated.” When guardianships are established, the incapacitated person’s legal right to make certain decisions with respect to his or her personal and/or financial affairs is removed and responsibility for making such decisions is placed in the court-appointed guardian. Adapted from: DSHS:Guardianship Basics.
The process usually takes 2-4 months, but rare cases can remain in litigation for more than a year. Cost varies accordingly to the complexities of the case. The petitioner is usually a family member, seeking to help an elderly and/or disabled adult by acquiring the necessary legal authority to care for their personal and financial needs, depending on their level of “incapacity” or disability. The process includes a “guardian ad litem” (temporary guardian) who represents the interests of the “alleged incapacitated person” through investigation, report and recommendation to the court.
Sometimes a guardianship is needed in order to help an elderly family member qualify for Medicaid benefits so that nursing home care is affordable. Occasionally a guardianship proceeding also involves a Vulnerable Adult Protection petition. Give us a call to discuss your particular situation.
Please note that guardianships for minors are also included in RCW 11.130. Please see Minor Guardianships for more information.