A guardian is a person or agency appointed by the court who is designated to act for someone who has been declared incapacitated. Limited Guardianships are established for people who retain the ability to make some decisions for themselves, but need assistance in one or more areas.

A person may need a guardian if they are determined to be incapacitated as to their person or estate, and if no alternatives to guardianship exist. A determination of incapacity is a legal determination, made by the court. A person is incapacitated as to his person when he or she has a significant risk of personal harm based upon a demonstrated inability over time to adequately provide for nutrition, health, housing, or physical safety. A person is incapacitated as to his or her estate when he or she is at significant risk of financial harm based upon a demonstrated inability over time to adequately manage property or financial affairs.

Any interested person can petition to start a guardianship. You don’t need to be related, and you don’t have to want to serve as the guardian, or even know who would serve as guardian.

If you suspect that a guardianship may be necessary for someone you care about, please call to set up a consultation. We can discuss the pros and cons of guardianship, the alternatives to guardianship, and whether a petition to start a guardianship is appropriate in your case. We represent petitioners, guardians, alleged incapacitated persons, and other interested family members in guardianship matters. We also serve on the Guardian ad litem registry for King County and have formerly served as Certified Professional Guardians.

Protection Against Elder Abuse

In cases where an elder or incapacitated person is being abused, a petition for a protection order can be filed under RCW 74.34.

A “vulnerable adult” includes someone who:

  • Is over 60 years old and without the functional, mental, or physical ability to care for him or herself.
  • Someone who is 18 years or older and:
    • Was found incapacitated
    • Has a developmental disability
    • Has been admitted to a DSHS-licensed care facility or receives in-home care from a provider under DSHS contract
    • Self directs at-home care from a compensated personal aide

A petition for an order protecting a vulnerable adult can be filed when a vulnerable adult has been the victim of:

  • Abandonment
  • Abuse (sexual, mental, physical)
  • Financial exploitation
  • Neglect
  • The threat of any of these

A petition for an order of protection is sometimes necessary to protect a vulnerable adult, but alternatives should be explored. If you are concerned about an older adult who may be subject to abuse or neglect, please call me to set up a consultation.