Helping incapacitated adults or elderly persons who can no longer manage their finances
A conservator, or guardian of the estate as it is called in Washington, is a person who is appointed by the court to manage the income, property, and finances of a person deemed to be incapacitated. It is often a difficult decision that a family member may need to make, and it can be equally difficult for the incapacitated person, particularly when they understand that they are losing control over their own financial affairs.
When is conservatorship appropriate?
If a person had an estate plan that included a Durable Power of Attorney, there is no need to petition for a conservatorship. If they did not, and they can no longer take care of their finances, pay their bills, or manage their assets, then the appointment of a guardian of the estate (conservator) may be necessary. If the person is also no longer capable of taking care of their nutritional, health care, or physical safety, then a guardian of the person may be necessary. The guardian of the estate and the guardian of the person may be the same or different entities, whether an individual or an organization.
What is the process in Spokane County?
Guardians/conservators are appointed by the Washington State Superior Court. Once a petition is filed, the person alleged to be incapacitated must be served with a notice within five days. A guardian ad litem (GAL) will be appointed to determine both the need for a guardian of the estate and whether the proposed guardian is appropriate. The GAL makes recommendations based on their investigation. The GAL’s report may recommend dismissal of the petition or the appointment of a limited or plenary guardianship.
If appointment is approved, the guardian/conservator must file an oath to follow procedures and duties as laid out by the court. The courts also have the authority to modify or terminate guardianship.
Let us help you navigate the complex Conservatorship/Guardianship process
To learn more about conservatorship and whether it is the best option for your family member or loved one, contact us online using our message feature or call our office at (509) 994-1599 to schedule a consultation with Spokane conservator and guardianship attorney Katharine Tate. Each situation is unique, and we can discuss whether this is in the best interest of the incapacitated person or whether there may be a viable alternative. We serve clients throughout Spokane County and surrounding areas.