Guardianship is an area of law designed to assist disabled and/or vulnerable adults with the personal and financial aspects of their life. The vulnerable person is called a Ward. A Guardian of the Person makes all decisions for the Ward regarding housing and health. A Guardian of the Estate makes all financial decisions for the Ward.
Beginning on January 1, 2021, guardianship will also encompass minors not in the custody of their parents.
Helping Those Most Vulnerable
Specific Areas of Guardianship Law
The petitioner in a guardianship action brings the action to the court for appointment of a guardian. As the attorney for the petitioner I would assist the Petitioner in determing the type of guardianship and the scope of the guardianship. I would draft the initial documents and file them with the court. The attorney for the Petitioner then selects a guardian ad litem and presents the order to the court. After the investigation, there is a hearing or trial on the petition resulting in the appointment of the guardian, determination of a less restrictive alternative to guardianship or dismissal of the case.
The alleged incapacitated person is the person alleged to need a guardianship to protect their personal rights. This person has a absolute right to an attorney to represent them. If they do not have funds available, an attorney will be paid by the state of Washington. This attorney shall represent them in all phases of the guardianship procedure.
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A guardian ad litem is a trained party appointed by the court upon the filing of a petition for guardianship. The guardian ad litem investigates the allegations of incapacity and writes a report to the court. This report is used by the court to determine if a guardianship is necessary to protect the vulnerable person. Lin does not accept guardian ad litem appointments in Spokane County.
Guardianship Alternatives & Advice
It is important to speak to an attorney when considering the appointment of a guardian. Guardianship is very restrictive to the affected person and should not be considered lightly. There are less restrictive alternatives such as joint bank accounts, automatic bill pay, powers of attorney (they can be irrevocable) and other alternatives depending on the specific facts.
Lin has represented vulnerable adults in all aspects of the law for over 28 years. Her experience and training as a registered nurse has allowed her to assess the condition of the alleged incapacitated person and assist in planning less restrictive alternatives if possible. No one wants to take away a loved ones basic rights without considering all possible alternatives.