Guardian ad litem — Mediation — Appointment — Qualifications — Notice of and statement by guardian ad litem — Hearing and notice — Attorneys' fees and costs — Registry — Duties — Report — Responses — Fee.
(1) Nothing contained in RCW 11.88.080 through 11.88.120, 11.92.010 through 11.92.040, 11.92.060 through 11.92.120, 11.92.170, and11.92.180 shall affect or impair the power of any court to appoint a guardian ad litem to defend the interests of any incapacitated person interested in any suit or matter pending therein, or to commence and prosecute any suit in his or her behalf.
(2) Prior to the appointment of a guardian or a limited guardian, whenever it appears that the incapacitated person or incapacitated person's estate could benefit from mediation and such mediation would likely result in overall reduced costs to the estate, upon the motion of the alleged incapacitated person or the guardian ad litem, or subsequent to such appointment, whenever it appears that the incapacitated person or incapacitated person's estate could benefit from mediation and such mediation would likely result in overall reduced costs to the estate, upon the motion of any interested person, the court may:
(a) Require any party or other person subject to the jurisdiction of the court to participate in mediation;
(b) Establish the terms of the mediation; and
(c) Allocate the cost of the mediation pursuant to *RCW 11.96.140.
(3) Upon receipt of a petition for appointment of guardian or limited guardian, except as provided herein, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the alleged incapacitated person, who shall be a person found or known by the court to:
(a) Be free of influence from anyone interested in the result of the proceeding; and
(b) Have the requisite knowledge, training, or expertise to perform the duties required by this section.
The guardian ad litem shall within five days of receipt of notice of appointment file with the court and serve, either personally or by certified mail with return receipt, each party with a statement including: His or her training relating to the duties as a guardian ad litem; his or her criminal history as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 for the period covering ten years prior to the appointment; his or her hourly rate, if compensated; whether the guardian ad litem has had any contact with a party to the proceeding prior to his or her appointment; and whether he or she has an apparent conflict of interest. Within three days of the later of the actual service or filing of the guardian ad litem's statement, any party may set a hearing and file and serve a motion for an order to show cause why the guardian ad litem should not be removed for one of the following three reasons: (i) Lack of expertise necessary for the proceeding; (ii) an hourly rate higher than what is reasonable for the particular proceeding; or (iii) a conflict of interest. Notice of the hearing shall be provided to the guardian ad litem and all parties. If, after a hearing, the court enters an order replacing the guardian ad litem, findings shall be included, expressly stating the reasons for the removal. If the guardian ad litem is not removed, the court has the authority to assess to the moving party, attorneys' fees and costs related to the motion. The court shall assess attorneys' fees and costs for frivolous motions.
No guardian ad litem need be appointed when a parent is petitioning for a guardian or a limited guardian to be appointed for his or her minor child and the minority of the child, as defined by RCW 11.92.010, is the sole basis of the petition. The order appointing the guardian ad litem shall recite the duties set forth in subsection (5) of this section. The appointment of a guardian ad litem shall have no effect on the legal competency of the alleged incapacitated person and shall not overcome the presumption of competency or full legal and civil rights of the alleged incapacitated person.
(4)(a) The superior court of each county shall develop and maintain a registry of persons who are willing and qualified to serve as guardians ad litem in guardianship matters. The court shall choose as guardian ad litem a person whose name appears on the registry in a system of consistent rotation, except in extraordinary circumstances such as the need for particular expertise. The court shall develop procedures for periodic review of the persons on the registry and for probation, suspension, or removal of persons on the registry for failure to perform properly their duties as guardian ad litem. In the event the court does not select the person next on the list, it shall include in the order of appointment a written reason for its decision.
(b) To be eligible for the registry a person shall:
(i) Present a written statement outlining his or her background and qualifications. The background statement shall include, but is not limited to, the following information:
(A) Level of formal education;
(B) Training related to the guardian ad litem's duties;
(C) Number of years' experience as a guardian ad litem;
(D) Number of appointments as a guardian ad litem and the county or counties of appointment;
(E) Criminal history, as defined in RCW 9.94A.030; and
(F) Evidence of the person's knowledge, training, and experience in each of the following: Needs of impaired elderly people, physical disabilities, mental illness, developmental disabilities, and other areas relevant to the needs of incapacitated persons, legal procedure, and the requirements of chapters 11.88 and 11.92 RCW.
The written statement of qualifications shall include the names of any counties in which the person was removed from a guardian ad litem registry pursuant to a grievance action, and the name of the court and the cause number of any case in which the court has removed the person for cause; and
(ii) Complete the training as described in (e) of this subsection. The training is not applicable to guardians ad litem appointed pursuant to special proceeding Rule 98.16W.
(c) Superior court shall remove any person from the guardian ad litem registry who misrepresents his or her qualifications pursuant to a grievance procedure established by the court.
(d) The background and qualification information shall be updated annually.
(e) The department of social and health services shall convene an advisory group to develop a model guardian ad litem training program and shall update the program biennially. The advisory group shall consist of representatives from consumer, advocacy, and professional groups knowledgeable in developmental disabilities, neurological impairment, physical disabilities, mental illness, domestic violence, aging, legal, court administration, the Washington state bar association, and other interested parties.
(f) The superior court shall require utilization of the model program developed by the advisory group as described in (e) of this subsection, to assure that candidates applying for registration as a qualified guardian ad litem shall have satisfactorily completed training to attain these essential minimum qualifications to act as guardian ad litem.
(5) The guardian ad litem appointed pursuant to this section shall have the following duties:
(a) To meet and consult with the alleged incapacitated person as soon as practicable following appointment and explain, in language which such person can reasonably be expected to understand, the substance of the petition, the nature of the resultant proceedings, the person's right to contest the petition, the identification of the proposed guardian or limited guardian, the right to a jury trial on the issue of his or her alleged incapacity, the right to independent legal counsel as provided by RCW 11.88.045, and the right to be present in court at the hearing on the petition;
(b) To obtain a written report according to RCW 11.88.045; and such other written or oral reports from other qualified professionals as are necessary to permit the guardian ad litem to complete the report required by this section;
(c) To meet with the person whose appointment is sought as guardian or limited guardian and ascertain:
(i) The proposed guardian's knowledge of the duties, requirements, and limitations of a guardian; and
(ii) The steps the proposed guardian intends to take or has taken to identify and meet the needs of the alleged incapacitated person;
(d) To consult as necessary to complete the investigation and report required by this section with those known relatives, friends, or other persons the guardian ad litem determines have had a significant, continuing interest in the welfare of the alleged incapacitated person;
(e) To investigate alternate arrangements made, or which might be created, by or on behalf of the alleged incapacitated person, such as revocable or irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, or blocked accounts; whether good cause exists for any such arrangements to be discontinued; and why such arrangements should not be continued or created in lieu of a guardianship;
(f) To provide the court with a written report which shall include the following:
(i) A description of the nature, cause, and degree of incapacity, and the basis upon which this judgment was made;
(ii) A description of the needs of the incapacitated person for care and treatment, the probable residential requirements of the alleged incapacitated person and the basis upon which these findings were made;
(iii) An evaluation of the appropriateness of the guardian or limited guardian whose appointment is sought and a description of the steps the proposed guardian has taken or intends to take to identify and meet current and emerging needs of the incapacitated person;
(iv) A description of any alternative arrangements previously made by the alleged incapacitated person or which could be made, and whether and to what extent such alternatives should be used in lieu of a guardianship, and if the guardian ad litem is recommending discontinuation of any such arrangements, specific findings as to why such arrangements are contrary to the best interest of the alleged incapacitated person;
(v) A description of the abilities of the alleged incapacitated person and a recommendation as to whether a guardian or limited guardian should be appointed. If appointment of a limited guardian is recommended, the guardian ad litem shall recommend the specific areas of authority the limited guardian should have and the limitations and disabilities to be placed on the incapacitated person;
(vi) An evaluation of the person's mental ability to rationally exercise the right to vote and the basis upon which the evaluation is made;
(vii) Any expression of approval or disapproval made by the alleged incapacitated person concerning the proposed guardian or limited guardian or guardianship or limited guardianship;
(viii) Identification of persons with significant interest in the welfare of the alleged incapacitated person who should be advised of their right to request special notice of proceedings pursuant to RCW 11.92.150; and
(ix) Unless independent counsel has appeared for the alleged incapacitated person, an explanation of how the alleged incapacitated person responded to the advice of the right to jury trial, to independent counsel and to be present at the hearing on the petition.
Within forty-five days after notice of commencement of the guardianship proceeding has been served upon the guardian ad litem, and at least fifteen days before the hearing on the petition, unless an extension or reduction of time has been granted by the court for good cause, the guardian ad litem shall file its report and send a copy to the alleged incapacitated person and his or her counsel, spouse or domestic partner, all children not residing with a notified person, those persons described in (f)(viii) of this subsection, and persons who have filed a request for special notice pursuant to RCW 11.92.150. If the guardian ad litem needs additional time to finalize his or her report, then the guardian ad litem shall petition the court for a postponement of the hearing or, with the consent of all other parties, an extension or reduction of time for filing the report. If the hearing does not occur within sixty days of filing the petition, then upon the two-month anniversary of filing the petition and on or before the same day of each following month until the hearing, the guardian ad litem shall file interim reports summarizing his or her activities on the proceeding during that time period as well as fees and costs incurred;
(g) To advise the court of the need for appointment of counsel for the alleged incapacitated person within five court days after the meeting described in (a) of this subsection unless (i) counsel has appeared, (ii) the alleged incapacitated person affirmatively communicated a wish not to be represented by counsel after being advised of the right to representation and of the conditions under which court-provided counsel may be available, or (iii) the alleged incapacitated person was unable to communicate at all on the subject, and the guardian ad litem is satisfied that the alleged incapacitated person does not affirmatively desire to be represented by counsel.
(6) If the petition is brought by an interested person or entity requesting the appointment of some other qualified person or entity and a prospective guardian or limited guardian cannot be found, the court shall order the guardian ad litem to investigate the availability of a possible guardian or limited guardian and to include the findings in a report to the court pursuant to subsection (5)(f) of this section.
(7) The parties to the proceeding may file responses to the guardian ad litem report with the court and deliver such responses to the other parties and the guardian ad litem at any time up to the second day prior to the hearing. If a guardian ad litem fails to file his or her report in a timely manner, the hearing shall be continued to give the court and the parties at least fifteen days before the hearing to review the report. At any time during the proceeding upon motion of any party or on the court's own motion, the court may remove the guardian ad litem for failure to perform his or her duties as specified in this chapter, provided that the guardian ad litem shall have five days' notice of any motion to remove before the court enters such order. In addition, the court in its discretion may reduce a guardian ad litem's fee for failure to carry out his or her duties.
(8) The court appointed guardian ad litem shall have the authority, in the event that the alleged incapacitated person is in need of emergency life-saving medical services, and is unable to consent to such medical services due to incapacity pending the hearing on the petition to give consent for such emergency life-saving medical services on behalf of the alleged incapacitated person.
(9) The court-appointed guardian ad litem shall have the authority to move for temporary relief under chapter 7.40 RCW to protect the alleged incapacitated person from abuse, neglect, abandonment, or exploitation, as those terms are defined in RCW 74.34.020, or to address any other emergency needs of the alleged incapacitated person. Any alternative arrangement executed before filing the petition for guardianship shall remain effective unless the court grants the relief requested under chapter 7.40 RCW, or unless, following notice and a hearing at which all parties directly affected by the arrangement are present, the court finds that the alternative arrangement should not remain effective.
(10) The guardian ad litem shall receive a fee determined by the court. The fee shall be charged to the alleged incapacitated person unless the court finds that such payment would result in substantial hardship upon such person, in which case the county shall be responsible for such costs: PROVIDED, That the court may charge such fee to the petitioner, the alleged incapacitated person, or any person who has appeared in the action; or may allocate the fee, as it deems just. If the petition is found to be frivolous or not brought in good faith, the guardian ad litem fee shall be charged to the petitioner. The court shall not be required to provide for the payment of a fee to any salaried employee of a public agency.
(11) Upon the presentation of the guardian ad litem report and the entry of an order either dismissing the petition for appointment of guardian or limited guardian or appointing a guardian or limited guardian, the guardian ad litem shall be dismissed and shall have no further duties or obligations unless otherwise ordered by the court. If the court orders the guardian ad litem to perform further duties or obligations, they shall not be performed at county expense.
(12) The guardian ad litem shall appear in person at all hearings on the petition unless all parties provide a written waiver of the requirement to appear.
(13) At any hearing the court may consider whether any person who makes decisions regarding the alleged incapacitated person or estate has breached a statutory or fiduciary duty.
[2008 c 6 § 804; 2000 c 124 § 1; 1999 c 360 § 1; 1996 c 249 § 10; 1995 c 297 § 4; 1991 c 289 § 5; 1990 c 122 § 8; 1977 ex.s. c 309 § 6; 1975 1st ex.s. c 95 § 9; 1965 c 145 § 11.88.090. Prior: 1917 c 156 § 211; RRS § 1581; prior: Code 1881 § 1619; 1873 p 318 § 314; 1860 p 228 § 336.]
|Rules of court: Judgment for and settlement of claims of minors: SPR 98.16W.|
*Reviser's note: RCW 11.96.140 was repealed by 1999 c 42 § 637, effective January 1, 2000.
Part headings not law -- Severability -- 2008 c 6: See RCW 26.60.900 and 26.60.901.
Grievance rules -- 2000 c 124: "Each superior court shall adopt rules establishing and governing procedures for filing, investigating, and adjudicating grievances made by or against guardians ad litem under Titles 11, 13, and 26 RCW." [2000 c 124 § 16.]
Intent -- 1996 c 249: See note following RCW 2.56.030.
Effective date -- 1990 c 122: See note following RCW 11.88.005.
Severability -- 1977 ex.s. c 309: See note following RCW 11.88.005.
Costs against guardian of infant plaintiff: RCW 4.84.140.
District judge, guardian ad litem if defendant minor, appointment of: RCW 12.04.150.
Execution against for costs against infant plaintiff: RCW 4.84.140.
appearance in civil action: RCW 4.08.060.
appointment for civil actions: RCW 4.08.060.
Liability for costs against infant plaintiffs: RCW 4.84.140.
appearance in civil actions: RCW 4.08.050.
appointment for civil actions: RCW 4.08.050.
district court proceedings: RCW 12.04.150.
Registration of land titles, appointment for minors: RCW 65.12.145.