Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Understanding Legal Guardianships

Posted Saturday, September 30, 2017 by Chris Thayer

Washington law recognizes that certain people are not capable of making decisions for themselves. In those situations, courts may appoint legal guardians.

What is a Legal Guardian?

A legal guardian is a person or entity appointed by a court to manage another person’s personal and/or financial affairs. There are usually three instances in which a person needs a legal guardian:

Depending on any limitations imposed by the court, a guardian might make financial and medical decisions, file lawsuits on the person’s behalf, and decide where the person will live. For example, an elderly woman who was injured when a Florida nursing home lost power during Hurricane Irma recently sued the facility for negligence. A guardian filed the lawsuit on her behalf.

Who May Serve as a Legal Guardian?

Guardians must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Convicted felons may not serve as guardians. Oftentimes a relative will act as guardian, but there are also professional guardians who charge fees for their services. There is a Certified Professional Guardianship Board that issue certifications to people who act as guardians to three or more people.

How is a Legal Guardian Appointed?

A court will appoint a guardian after a petition has been filed requesting such appointment. Before the court appoints a guardian, it must determine whether the person is incapacitated. Here are the steps in the petition process:

What are the Types of Guardianships?

There are two types of guardianships - partial (limited) and full (plenary). In a partial guardianship, the guardian will only assume decisionmaking authority for the rights specifically named in the court order. For example, the court may give the guardian decisionmaking authority over the person’s financial affairs, while the person retains decisionmaking authority over all other aspects of his or her life.

In a full guardianship the guardian assumes decisionmaking authority over the rights specified in Washington law, including filing a personal care plan and an annual status report on the incapacitated person.

Is There a Guardianship Alternative?

There are many legal alternatives to guardianships. For example, you can establish a power of attorney, giving someone else authority to act on your behalf. This often involves giving something authority to make medical decisions for you, like whether to artificially prolong your life. An experienced attorney can help you determine what option is best for you or your loved one.

Contact Us Today

Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you or a loved one have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. Our experienced attorneys will help you recover compensation for your injuries. We can also walk you through the legal guardianship process if that is a factor in your case.