According to the National Center for State Courts, in 2016, there were about 1.3 million adult guardianship cases in the United States, with an estimated $50 billion of assets under management by court-appointed fiduciaries. Washington State provides a type of court-supervised fiduciary appointment to support, protect, and oversee the affairs of individuals who are unable to make crucial decisions concerning their general well-being and finances.
If you're considering appointing a guardian or if you have been appointed as the guardian of an incapacitated adult or minor child, consulting with a knowledgeable Washington State estate planning attorney is important for proper guidance. Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning has dedicated his career to guiding families through the process of establishing guardianship. He will provide you with the comprehensive legal guidance and advocacy you need to appoint a guardian or carry out your duties and responsibilities as a guardian to a loved one.
Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning proudly serves clients throughout Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Washington, as well as Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding areas.
Guardianship can be described as a relationship created by state law, whereby a court grants a person (the guardian) the power and duty to make important decisions about the well-being, health, and finances of another person (incapacitated adult or minor child) who cannot care for or make such decisions by themselves. Guardianships may be used in any of these three circumstances:
Guardianship of an incapacitated adult
Guardianship of a minor child
Guardianship of a developmentally disabled adult
A guardian is a person, agency, or institution appointed by the court to manage the interests and affairs of another person. Once appointed, a guardian will have authority over an individual's personal, financial, and property decisions, including:
Where to live
What medical treatment or health care services to receive
Real estate and other property
A guardian can be anyone who has an established and positive relationship with the person. A relative, a family friend, or an authorized carer who cares about the individual under guardianship can be a guardian. However, a person CANNOT be appointed a guardian if:
The person is a minor
The person is considered to be incompetent
The person has filed for bankruptcy within the past seven years
The person appointed as a guardian over another person can:
Provide proper care, maintenance, and support
Provide food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities
Advocate for the protected person
Authorize medical, dental, surgical, psychiatric, and psychological care
Ensure that the protected person receives adequate education and proper training
Provide the protected person with an opportunity to learn a trade, profession, or occupation
Prepare an annual report every year updating the court about the wellbeing of the protected
A guardian does not have complete power to make all the decisions for the protected person. The guardian is required to get the court’s approval or permission before:
Paying himself or herself for providing care to the protected person
Placing the protected person in a care facility
Administering certain drugs
Moving the protected person to a different location
Selling any of the protected person's personal or real estate property
Withdrawing funds from an account or using the protected person's debit card
Whether you live in Washington or Oregon, appointing a guardian is similar in both states. The process begins when an attorney representing the concerned party or family member (petitioner) files a petition with the state court. The petition must include facts that indicate that the person is incapacitated. Any person interested in becoming a guardian may also file a petition in the court. Other steps to be taken before guardianship is appointed include:
Deliver a notice of the guardianship petition to the person named in the petition
Appoint a court visitor or "guardian ad litem" to interview and investigate the people involved in the guardianship case and present a report to the court
Hold a hearing to determine whether the person needs a guardian
Once the judge determines that the person needs a guardian and certifies the proposed guardian as qualified and suitable, based on the court visitor's report, the judge will sign an order appointing the guardian.
Before you choose a guardian in your estate plan or start serving as a guardian, it is crucial that you understand the legal duties and responsibilities of guardianship. This is why you need to speak with a knowledgeable Washington State estate planning and elder law attorney for detailed guidance.
Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning is committed to offering compassionate legal services and detailed guidance to clients in matters of estate planning, guardianship, wills, and trusts. As your legal counsel, he can help you understand the guardianship process, explain your rights, duties, and responsibilities as a guardian, and how to achieve them. Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning can offer you the comprehensive legal counsel and advocacy you need to navigate critical decisions.
If you need to appoint a guardian or if you've been appointed as a guardian over an incapacitated adult or child, contact Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning today to schedule a free one-on-one consultation. Using his extensive experience, he can guide you through the guardianship process and help you navigate key decisions as a guardian. He is proud to serve clients throughout Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Washington, as well as Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding areas.