When a loved one becomes incapacitated and has not left a durable power of attorney, our Skagit guardianship lawyer in Anacortes is ready to assist families by helping with a guardianship proceeding in Skagit, Island, or Whatcom Counties.
Whether it be due to age, illness, or some other circumstance, the courts can be asked to intervene to appoint a guardian. The guardian accepts responsibility for the financial, legal and/or personal needs of the individual who has been deemed incapacitated by the courts. As a result, the guardian must report regularly to the court on the status of the incapacitated person’s personal and financial status.
We can help you through this difficult time. In certain cases, a full or even a limited guardianship may not be the best solution. Instead we can help you file a protection order under Washington State’s Vulnerable Adult Protection Act or we will explore with you alternatives to guardianship.
Elderly persons or persons with failing health may choose, while they still have mental capacity, a variety of alternatives to avoid guardianship. While not every approach may work equally well for every situation, a well-tailored strategy could avoid a guardianship and save all involved a lot of difficulties and expense.
As to financial decisions, a person can do one or more of the following:
1. Appoint an attorney-in-fact under a Financial Durable Power of Attorney
The attorney-in-fact will be able, in essence, to step in the shoes of the principal and would be empowered to access and manage the principal’s financial affairs.
2. Set up a convenience signer for a bank account
A person can instruct a financial institution to add another individual as a signer on that person’s account.
3. Set up auto-deposits and electronic payments
This approach can reduce the monthly bookkeeping for a person’s finances.
4. Appoint a representative payee for government benefits
A person can appoint another to receive on his or her behalf that person’s government benefits, such as Social Security, VA, etc.
5. Set up a trust
A person can create a trust to hold his or her assets. A careful consideration of co-trustees and successor trustees could provide a flexible approach, tailored to the needs and abilities of the trustor.
Guardianship Alternatives for Health Care Decisions
As to health care decisions, a person can do one or more of the following:
1. Appoint an attorney-in-fact under a Health Care Durable Power of Attorney
The attorney-in-fact would be authorized to make decisions about the principal's health care providers, procedures, therapies, drugs, care facilities, doctors, and all other health care decisions.
2. Create advance directives for health care and mental health care
Under Washington law, a person can direct his or her health care provider about the person’s wishes regarding medical procedures at the end of life, typically when one is unconscious and has a terminal illness.
Guardianship Portal - State of Washington
Instructional Video for Guardians (Washington Courts)
Guardianships (Skagit County Superior Court)
To Collect Debts, Nursing Homes Are Seizing Control Over Patients (The New York Times)