Pursuant to Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Title 11, Chapters 88 and 92, the Superior Court has the power to appoint guardians for the persons and/or estates of incapacitated persons. For the purposes of that statute a person may be deemed incapacitated:
- As to his/her "person", when the Court determines the individual has a significant risk of personal harm based upon a demonstrated inability to adequately provide for nutrition, health, housing, or physical safety.
- As to his/her "estate", when the Court determines the individual is at significant risk of financial harm based upon a demonstrated inability to adequately manage property or financial affairs.
- If he/she is a minor, that is under the age 18 and not legally emancipated or a married female 16 or over.
A determination of incapacity is a legal, not a medical decision based upon a demonstration of management insufficiencies over time in the area of person or estate. Age, eccentricity, poverty, or medical diagnosis alone shall not be sufficient to justify a finding of incapacity. The particular nature of a guardian's duties / responsibilities will depend upon whether he/she is appointed guardian or limited guardian of the person, the estate, or both, and will be set forth in the court order establishing a guardianship.
Procedures in Snohomish County
The Snohomish County Clerk's Office is where all guardianship legal documents are filed and maintained. The arm of the court assigned guardianship matters in almost all cases is that of the Court Commissioner's Courtrooms 1B and 1E on the first floor of the courthouse. Department 1B hears ex parte matters not requiring notice to other parties and/or a hearing on all judicial days at 9-10:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Department 1E hears matters requiring notice and/or a hearing on Mondays at 1p.m. and Fridays at 9:00a.m., which must be noted and confirmed in advance.
A (PDF)packet with forms and instructions for commencing a guardianship, pro se (without an attorney) is available at the Clerk's Office. For guardianships of minors requested by their natural or adoptive parent(s) special and less involved procedures apply.
Once a guardianship is established, the guardian(s) have many duties including making reports to the court during its duration and in connection with its closure before the guardian(s) are released from further liability.
The court oversees guardianships with the assistance of the Guardianship Monitoring Program (GMP).
Pursuant to RCW 11.88.120, guardian complaints may be filed by an unrepresented person or entity in writing. All complaints must follow the procedures set forth in RCW 11.88.120(2)(a) and be submitted to the Superior Court Operations Program's Administrator located at 3000 Rockefeller Ave, Everett, WA 98201, room C140.
- Guardianship Forms
- July 2011 Changes to Guardianship Laws (PDF)
- Manual for Guardians Under Title 11 (PDF)
For volunteer opportunities, please contact Christine Liebsack at 425-388-3737.