A guardianship is designed to protect and promote the well being of those whose functional limitations prevent them from making their own decisions. Guardianship is a legal decision made by a judge, rather than a medical decision made by a doctor.
Anyone can file a petition for guardianship for another person. Once a guardianship petition is filed with the court, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed to do an investigation. The GAL will meet with the alleged incapacitated person as well as family members and friends who are involved in the alleged incapacitated person's life. The GAL then prepares an independent report as to what has caused the petition to be filed and what their recommendations are. The report provides information to the court as to what the medical, living, and financial situations are, what the GAL's recommendations are, and whom should be appointed as the alleged incapacitated person's guardian, if they need one.
Next, a hearing is held where the judge decides what type of guardianship, if any, the alleged incapacitated person will receive. The different types of guardianship are guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, both, or a limited version of either. The Judge will also make a ruling as to who the guardian will be: a friend, family member, or separate fiduciary agency, such as Commencement Bay Guardianship Services (CBGS).
Washington State statutes specifically state that age, eccentricity, poverty or medical diagnoses alone are not sufficient to justify a finding of incapacity. The court has authority to limit a guardianship to address an incapacitated person's specific abilities and limitations.
In order for an adult to qualify for guardianship, the individual must be at significant risk of personal harm based upon a demonstrated inability to adequately provide for their nutrition, health, housing, or physical safety, and/or are at significant risk of financial harm based upon a demonstrated inability to adequately manage their property or financial affairs. The court will deem a person incapacitated and appoint a guardian only when it is satisfied that these requirements are met and that no less restrictive alternative is available.
Guardianship Appointment Process
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