When parents of a child are no longer able to care for the child, or the child's health, safety and wellbeing is in danger, a guardianship may be needed. Unfortunately, so many people are unprepared and do not designate a guardian for their child, so the court must. At the Law Office of Amy Rimov, our guardianship attorney in Washington wants you to understand the guardianship process, and future planning for the worst via your estate plan is critical if you have minor children. Contact us by filling out the online form or contacting us directly at (509) 835-5377. We want what's best for you and your family.
What Constitutes a Guardianship in Washington
Guardianship is legal authority provided to a specific person to make decisions for another person, typically a minor child when that child's parents are unable to care for the child. This person with legal authority is referred to as the “guardian.”
Endowed with legal authority, the guardian is responsible for the wellbeing and care of the child and can make decisions about the child's:
A Conservatorship (like a guardianship, but focused on assets only) may be needed over the child's estate when the child has inherited assets. The conservator will manage these assets until the child is an adult.
Reasons a Guardianship Might be Needed in Washington
Parents almost always have the legal right to make decisions for their children unless parental rights have been terminated. When parents cannot make those decisions, someone must step in to do it. This often happens when both parents have died or when both parents are incapacitated in some way by illness, injury or unfortunate circumstances which threaten the child's health, safety and wellbeing.
Who Can Be Appointed a Guardian in Washington
Who the guardian is will often depend on whether or not a guardian was designated in a living will or last will and testament. If neither of the latter was created, the court will appoint a guardian. A guardian can be related to the child, but that is not a requirement.
Factors that Disqualify a Person as a Guardian
Not all people can be guardians. Examples of when a person does not qualify as a guardian include but are not limited to people who:
- Are incompetent (e.g., cannot care for themselves properly)
- Are also a minor
- Have filed for bankruptcy in the past (e.g., within 7 years)
- Have been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty, neglect, use of physical force (unless the court states otherwise)
- Have been suspended or disbarred from a profession that requires a state license and involves the management of money
How Long Does a Guardianship Last?
Guardianship usually last until the child becomes an adult at the age of 18. The exception to this rule is when the child will turn 19 before they graduate from high school. The guardianship will last throughout high school.
A guardianship may also be terminated under other circumstances, like when/if:
- The guardian or child dies
- The guardian becomes incompetent
- A parent who had been incapacitated no longer is
- The guardian requests termination and the court approves
In cases where the protected child is not yet an adult, the court will appoint another guardian.
Protect Minor Child: Contact a Guardianship Attorney in Spokane Today
If you require assistance protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of a minor child whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children, our guardianship attorney in Washington will help explain the necessary steps and implications of guardianship. Contact us today either online or at (509) 835-5377 to schedule a consultation.
Parents Plan Ahead: Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Spokane Today
If you have minor children, you want to make sure they are protected. A nomination in the event a guardianship is necessary is one way to secure their livelihood and futures in a way that aligns with your family's values and customs. Our guardianship and estate planning lawyers in Washington will help you identify what components will work best in your estate plan, whether it includes a guardianship as well as other tools, like a testamentary trust. Contact us today either online or at (509) 835-5377 to schedule a consultation and learn more.