Guardianships & Conservatorships
A guardianship is the legal process in which a court appoints a guardian to make decisions for a person because that person is unable to make decisions due to mental or physical incapacity. A conservatorship in Washington is the legal process in which a court appoints a conservator to make financial decisions for a person because that person is unable to make these decisions for him or herself. The person filing for a guardianship is called the petitioner. The person who is the subject of the guardianship proceeding is called the respondent. In Washington, a guardian can be appointed as a full or limited guardian.
In order to establish a guardianship in Washington, a petition must be filed with the court. Adults are presumed to have capacity. A court visitor is appointed by the court to investigate whether the respondent is incapacitated and make a recommendation to the court on who should be the guardian/conservator. A hearing is required to appoint a guardian and/or conservator. Online training is required for someone to become a guardian and/or conservator. Once the guardian and/or conservator is appointed by the court, plans and reports must be filed in the case. The guardian and conservator is also required to do annual and triannual reportings.
Courts are required to consider less restrictive alternatives to guardianships and conservatorships. There are several alternatives that are less restrictive to the respondent and less costly than a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding. If a person has mental capacity, alternative documents can be prepared to avoid or delay the need for a guardian or conservator. Before considering guardianship or conservatorship, we will explore other options that may be available. Guardianships are considered to be the option of last resort.
We represent petitioners in adult guardianships and conservatorships in King County. Please contact us at 425-296-6271 ext. 101.