A Guardianship is the process by which an individual or qualified entity obtains court authority to protect the rights or the property of an individual who has been determined by the court to be unable to provide for his person or to manage his property or financial affairs.
Legal mechanisms exist for those looking to protect a vulnerable or incapacitated member, and a guardianship is one of those mechanisms. Filing for a guardianship provides the best protection against financial exploitation. In essence, the guardian acts in the incapacitated individual’s best interests to make key decisions related to estate administration and, if appropriate, health care decisions. This may or may not be the decision your loved one says they want, which can be difficult; however, while your loved one may be frustrated over no longer having the authority to control certain things he or she once controlled, all parties have peace of mind that he or she is not open to cons and scams and has someone who has his or her best interest in mind to make decisions.
Guardianships are useful in many circumstances.
- For the parent or relative of a person over eighteen (18) years of age with a developmental disability, a guardianship will allow the parent or relative to gain control, authority and protection over that individual. This is especially important with regard to medical issues and the guardian’s ability to give informed consent for medical treatment for the disabled person.
- For an incapacitated adult or elderly person, a guardianship will allow the person to be protected while protecting those rights they are able to exercise for themselves.
A guardianship can be established for the person only, the estate only, or the person and estate of the incapacitated person. A guardianship of the person covers personal services of the incapacitated individual such as living arrangements, transportation, medical services, and informed consent for necessary medical procedures. Guardianship of the estate generally covers financial and contractual matters. The court also has the option of appointing a limited guardian of the person only, estate only, or a limited guardian of the person and estate for an individual. A limited guardianship acknowledges that the incapacitated individual has some decision-making abilities and specifically limits the powers of the limited guardian to assist the incapacitated individual only in those areas where he or she needs help.
The court has the power to make a guardianship last indefinitely, and a guardianship will continue until terminated by court order. This happens when a determination is made by the court that the incapacitated person is no longer incapacitated, the guardianship is no longer necessary because a minor has reached 18 years of age, or if the incapacitated person dies. Anyone, including the incapacitated person, may petition the court at any time to modify or terminate the guardianship.
In the end, the courts make the decision if a guardianship is necessary. The process is thorough to ensure the selected guardian will act in the best interests of the elderly individual at all times. Having an experienced legal advocate can be critical to the process, especially if the guardianship is contested.
Who is appointed as a guardian for another person can be a very sensitive issue, and it’s important to be confident that the guardian is acting in the best interests of the ward. Whenever your family is facing guardianship issues, it is critical that you have an experienced and compassionate lawyer on your side. Elizabeth Turner has the expertise and resources necessary to provide you and your loved ones with zealous legal representation in your guardianship case.
Attorney Turner is committed to providing her clients with personalized legal services and the education needed to make informed legal decisions that can have a profound effect on their lives. When you need someone on your side who you can trust to protect your rights and the rights of your loved ones, call Snohomish County attorney Elizabeth Turner today.