Guardianship Of Incapacitated Adult
Mark Iverson represents suitable adults in establishing guardianships for incapacitated family members or other significant adults. He also acts as a guardian ad litem and represents professional guardians.
What Is Guardianship of an Incapacitated Adult?
When an adult becomes incapacitated and is no longer able to make financial and health decisions, a guardianship can be established. A guardian is appointed by the Court to make medical and financial decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. The guardian is often a family member. If no family member is available to act as a guardian, a professional guardian is appointed.
How Can You Become a Guardian?
A non professional guardian must take an online course prior to filing a petition for guardianship. In Spokane County, the proposed guardian must also take an in person training at the Spokane County courthouse prior to being appointed guardian. There is no fee for the online course. There is a nominal fee for the Spokane County course. A person called a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed by the court to meet with the person hoping to become guardian. Upon the recommendation of the Guardian Ad Litem a guardian is appointed.
Guardian Of The Person And Guardian Of The Estate
A proposed guardian may be appointed guardian of the person, guardian of the estate or guardian of the person and estate. The appointment depends upon the unique needs of the alleged incapacitated person. Any powers granted to the guardian by the court can be limited to assure that alleged incapacitated adult retains as much independence as possible.
Guardian Of The Person
The guardian of the person makes medical, housing and any other personal decisions on behalf of the alleged incapacitated person the court deems necessary.
Guardian Of The Estate
The guardian of the estate makes any financial decisions on behalf of the alleged incapacitated person the court deems necessary.
What Is the Legal Process?
A guardianship action is initiated by the person who wishes to become guardian. A petition is filed with the Court, and a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed by the Court to investigate and determine whether the adult is incapacitated and, if so, whether the person petitioning the Court is appropriate to become guardian is appropriate. The Guardian Ad Litem makes a recommendation to the Court in a report. At a court hearing the guardian is appointed. If the incapacitated person objects, a trial on the issue of capacity may be necessary.
A guardianship hearing is held within 60 days of the petition being filed with the Court and at least 15 days after the guardian ad litem report is filed. At the hearing the Court signs an order appointing the guardian and letters of guardianship are issued granting the guardian the authority to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated adult.
Rights Of The Alleged Incapacitated Person
The alleged incapacitated person (AIP) has a right to oppose an order appointing a guardian. The AIP has the right to an attorney and has the right to a jury trial on the issue of competency. The Guardian Ad Litem is required to make a recommendation that restricts the AIP's rights as little as possible. This is referred to as the least restrictive alternative. The goal is to fashion a guardianship order that offers assistance to the person in need but allows that person to continue to live as independently as possible.
If you find yourself in a situation where a loved one is unable to make decisions on their own behalf and appears to be in need of a guardian please contact us.