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11.88.008  <<  11.88.010 >>   11.88.020

RCW 11.88.010

Authority to appoint guardians — Definitions — Venue — Nomination by principal.

(1) The superior court of each county shall have power to appoint guardians for the persons and/or estates of incapacitated persons, and guardians for the estates of nonresidents of the state who have property in the county needing care and attention.

     (a) For purposes of this chapter, a person may be deemed incapacitated as to person when the superior 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.

     (b) For purposes of this chapter, a person may be deemed incapacitated as to the person's estate when the superior court determines the individual is at significant risk of financial harm based upon a demonstrated inability to adequately manage property or financial affairs.

     (c) 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.

     (d) A person may also be determined incapacitated if he or she is under the age of majority as defined in RCW 26.28.010.

     (e) For purposes of giving informed consent for health care pursuant to RCW 7.70.050 and 7.70.065, an "incompetent" person is any person who is (i) incompetent by reason of mental illness, developmental disability, senility, habitual drunkenness, excessive use of drugs, or other mental incapacity, of either managing his or her property or caring for himself or herself, or both, or (ii) incapacitated as defined in (a), (b), or (d) of this subsection.

     (f) For purposes of the terms "incompetent," "disabled," or "not legally competent," as those terms are used in the Revised Code of Washington to apply to persons incapacitated under this chapter, those terms shall be interpreted to mean "incapacitated" persons for purposes of this chapter.

     (2) The superior court for each county shall have power to appoint limited guardians for the persons and estates, or either thereof, of incapacitated persons, who by reason of their incapacity have need for protection and assistance, but who are capable of managing some of their personal and financial affairs. After considering all evidence presented as a result of such investigation, the court shall impose, by order, only such specific limitations and restrictions on an incapacitated person to be placed under a limited guardianship as the court finds necessary for such person's protection and assistance. A person shall not be presumed to be incapacitated nor shall a person lose any legal rights or suffer any legal disabilities as the result of being placed under a limited guardianship, except as to those rights and disabilities specifically set forth in the court order establishing such a limited guardianship. In addition, the court order shall state the period of time for which it shall be applicable.

     (3) Venue for petitions for guardianship or limited guardianship shall lie in the county wherein the alleged incapacitated person is domiciled, or if such person resides in a facility supported in whole or in part by local, state, or federal funding sources, in either the county where the facility is located, the county of domicile prior to residence in the supported facility, or the county where a parent or spouse or domestic partner of the alleged incapacitated person is domiciled.

     If the alleged incapacitated person's residency has changed within one year of the filing of the petition, any interested person may move for a change of venue for any proceedings seeking the appointment of a guardian or a limited guardian under this chapter to the county of the alleged incapacitated person's last place of residence of one year or more. The motion shall be granted when it appears to the court that such venue would be in the best interests of the alleged incapacitated person and would promote more complete consideration of all relevant matters.

     (4) Under RCW 11.94.010, a principal may nominate, by a durable power of attorney, the guardian or limited guardian of his or her estate or person for consideration by the court if guardianship proceedings for the principal's person or estate are thereafter commenced. The court shall make its appointment in accordance with the principal's most recent nomination in a durable power of attorney except for good cause or disqualification.

     (5) Imposition of a guardianship for an incapacitated person shall not result in the loss of the right to vote unless the court determines that the person is incompetent for purposes of rationally exercising the franchise in that the individual lacks the capacity to understand the nature and effect of voting such that she or he cannot make an individual choice. The court order establishing guardianship shall specify whether or not the individual retains voting rights. When a court determines that the person is incompetent for the purpose of rationally exercising the right to vote, the court shall notify the appropriate county auditor.

[2008 c 6 § 802; 2005 c 236 § 3; (2005 c 236 § 2 expired January 1, 2006); 2004 c 267 § 139; 1991 c 289 § 1; 1990 c 122 § 2; 1984 c 149 § 176; 1977 ex.s. c 309 § 2; 1975 1st ex.s. c 95 § 2; 1965 c 145 § 11.88.010. Prior: 1917 c 156 § 195; RRS § 1565; prior: Code 1881 § 1604; 1873 p 314 § 299; 1855 p 15 § 1.]

Notes:

     Part headings not law -- Severability -- 2008 c 6: See RCW 26.60.900 and 26.60.901.

     Effective date -- 2005 c 236 § 3: "Section 3 of this act takes effect January 1, 2006." [2005 c 236 § 5.]

     Expiration date -- 2005 c 236 § 2: "Section 2 of this act expires January 1, 2006." [2005 c 236 § 4.]

     Findings -- 2005 c 236: "The legislature finds that the right to vote is a fundamental liberty and that this liberty should not be confiscated without due process. When the state chooses to use guardianship proceedings as the basis for the denial of a fundamental liberty, an individual is entitled to basic procedural protections that will ensure fundamental fairness. These basic procedural protections should include clear notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. The legislature further finds that the state has a compelling interest in ensuring that those who cast a ballot understand the nature and effect of voting is an individual decision, and that any restriction of voting rights imposed through guardianship proceedings should be narrowly tailored to meet this compelling interest." [2005 c 236 § 1.]

     Effective dates -- 2004 c 267: See note following RCW 29A.08.010.

     Effective date -- 1990 c 122: See note following RCW 11.88.005.

     Severability -- Effective dates -- 1984 c 149: See notes following RCW 11.02.005.

     Severability -- 1977 ex.s. c 309: See note following RCW 11.88.005.