As we watch our parents age, we may begin to feel concerned about what the future will look like as they lose their ability to sufficiently care for themselves. For instance, you may notice that your mother is increasingly forgetful, only taking her medication sporadically or leaving the stove on after cooking. Perhaps your father has forgotten to pay his bills on time, leading to the shut off of electricity. As you notice your aging loved one struggling with memory issues or other types of incapacity, you may wonder what steps to take in order to protect their best interests and provide them with the support they need. Here is a brief overview of the guardianship process in Washington state.
When a person becomes incapacitated, due to a medical condition or simply age, the court may appoint a guardian who can manage the affairs of that individual. A common type of guardianship establishes a trusted individual, such as the aging person’s adult child, to oversee the financial affairs of their loved one. To initiate the process, you (or any concerned individual) may petition the court to determine whether the aging person is indeed incapacitated and if so, to appoint a guardian. If incapacity is determined, then the court may appoint either a professional guardian or a willing loved one, such as a relative of the incapacitated person, to serve this role. Once appointed, the guardian assumes the responsibility of managing the person’s property and finances.
When No Estate Plan Exists
If a parent has not completed estate planning documents, such as a power of attorney, matters can become tricky if the parent begins to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s. If you suspect that your parent is simply signing checks and other documents without really understanding what they are doing, then it’s important for you to contact an attorney who can help you petition for guardianship.
Modifying a Guardianship
It’s important to remember that guardianships can be modified as needed. If circumstances change, or if the individual or guardian believes that the terms of the guardianship need to be altered in some way, they can petition the court for a modification or termination of the guardianship. Ultimately, a judge will consider the request and make a decision as to whether to grant the modification.
If you are interested in learning more about establishing a guardianship in the Spokane Valley area, contact the skilled and compassionate elder law attorneys at Legacy Law Group by calling (509) 315-8087 today.