When is guardianship the best option?

Aug 13, 2021 | Estate Planning

As people get older, there is a chance that they will no longer be able to care for themselves or take care of their finances the way that they used to. According to the Washington State Council on Aging, guardianship is an option when an adult has significant trouble managing their personal care or financial affairs.

Usually, guardianship is a last resort, because taking guardianship of another person means that some of their rights to make decisions for themselves will be restricted. It is sometimes costly to get a guardianship as well, since you will need to go to court to have it implemented.

Deciding to become a guardian

It is typical to start the paperwork to become a guardian when the person you care for is at risk of personal injury or harm if you don’t step in to help. This risk will need to be shown through proper documentation. For example, medical documents showing that your loved one is mentally incapacitated could help.

A demonstrated inability to obtain and maintain their health and home, physical safety or nutrition can also be used to seek guardianship over another person. Keep in mind that age in itself is not enough to warrant a guardianship. Neither is poverty or eccentricity in how a person chooses to live.

What happens if you want to become a loved one’s guardian?

If you would like to become a loved one’s guardian, you will need to file a guardianship petition with the Washington Superior Court. Then, a court commissioner or judge will review the petition.

They will first assign a Guardian-ad-litem, so that they can find out more about the facts that you filed with the court. That person will go over alternatives that may be more appropriate than a guardianship if they do not believe that your loved one is incapacitated. If they do believe that a guardianship is warranted, then they will help recommend which rights the person should maintain or lose.

With these steps, you may be able to seek a guardianship if your loved one is incapacitated. If they cannot care for themselves or are at risk of injury, financial or physical, then you may want to step in.

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