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What is guardianship?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2022 | Estate Planning |

As a parent, you likely think of guardianship in terms of your children. The fact is, a guardianship action in Washington probably pertains to an older person.

When a person no longer has the physical or mental capacity to handle day-to-day care, a court may step in to appoint a guardian. You can do things now to prevent a protracted proceeding for yourself or a loved one.

The role of a guardian

As the brain and body age, it may become difficult to maintain an independent lifestyle. A guardian is someone a court allows to take control of an incapacitated person’s affairs, mainly financial matters. A judge may choose a guardian based on your wishes. However, if you do not have these memorialized in a legal document, a judge makes the choice.

The court procedure for becoming a guardian

A guardianship begins with a petition to the court. Upon review, the judge ensures that there is sufficient evidence of incapacitation. This includes substantial medical evidence in the form of reports and doctor testimonials. Once the court feels satisfied the person cannot make decisions, the proceedings continue.

How to prepare for a guardianship

When you draft an estate plan, it should contain the name of someone you would like appointed as a guardian. You may choose someone you know, such as an adult child or sibling, or a third party, such as a financial manager. Absent a designation by you, the judge will choose for you.

Caring for yourself or someone you love is an essential part of estate planning. Designating a guardian may cut down on the emotional and legal turmoil in the future.