Chapter 2.72 RCW



2.72.020Office of public guardianship createdAppointment of public guardianship administrator.
2.72.030Public guardianship programContracts for public guardianship servicesAdoption of eligibility criteria and minimum standards of practiceDuties of officeReport to legislature, study.
2.72.040Waiver of court costs.
2.72.050Administrator may develop rules.
2.72.055Decision-making authority trainingLegal community and persons working in long-term care facilities.


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In establishing an office of public guardianship, the legislature intends to promote the availability of guardianship services for individuals who need them and for whom adequate services may otherwise be unavailable. The legislature reaffirms its commitment to treat liberty and autonomy as paramount values for all Washington residents and to authorize public guardianship only to the minimum extent necessary to provide for health or safety, or to manage financial affairs, when the legal conditions for appointment of a guardian are met. It does not intend to alter those legal conditions or to expand judicial authority to determine that any individual is incapacitated.


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The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Office" means the office of public guardianship.
(2) "Public guardian" means an individual or entity providing public guardianship services.
(3) "Public guardianship services" means the services provided by a guardian or limited guardian appointed under chapters 11.88 and 11.92 RCW, who is compensated under a contract with the office of public guardianship.
(4) "Long-term care services" means services provided through the department of social and health services either in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, or in another setting under a home and community-based waiver authorized under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1396n.

Office of public guardianship created—Appointment of public guardianship administrator.

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(1) There is created an office of public guardianship within the administrative office of the courts.
(2) The supreme court shall appoint a public guardianship administrator to establish and administer a public guardianship program in the office of public guardianship. The public guardianship administrator serves at the pleasure of the supreme court.

Public guardianship program—Contracts for public guardianship services—Adoption of eligibility criteria and minimum standards of practice—Duties of office—Report to legislature, study.

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The public guardianship administrator is authorized to establish and administer a public guardianship program as follows:
(1)(a) The office shall contract with public or private entities or individuals to provide public guardianship services to persons age eighteen or older whose income does not exceed two hundred percent of the federal poverty level determined annually by the United States department of health and human services or who are receiving long-term care services through the Washington state department of social and health services. Neither the public guardianship administrator nor the office may act as public guardian or limited guardian or act in any other representative capacity for any individual.
(b) The office is exempt from *RCW 39.29.008 because the primary function of the office is to contract for public guardianship services that are provided in a manner consistent with the requirements of this chapter. The office shall otherwise comply with *chapter 39.29 RCW and is subject to audit by the state auditor.
(c) Public guardianship service contracts are dependent upon legislative appropriation. This chapter does not create an entitlement.
(d) The initial implementation of public guardianship services shall be on a pilot basis in a minimum of two geographical areas that include one urban area and one rural area. There may be one or several contracts in each area.
(2) The office shall, within one year of the commencement of its operation, adopt eligibility criteria to enable it to serve individuals with the greatest need when the number of cases in which courts propose to appoint a public guardian exceeds the number of cases in which public guardianship services can be provided. In adopting such criteria, the office may consider factors including, but not limited to, the following: Whether an incapacitated individual is at significant risk of harm from abuse, exploitation, abandonment, neglect, or self-neglect; and whether an incapacitated person is in imminent danger of loss or significant reduction in public services that are necessary for the individual to live successfully in the most integrated and least restrictive environment that is appropriate in light of the individual's needs and values.
(3) The office shall adopt minimum standards of practice for public guardians providing public guardianship services. Any public guardian providing such services must be certified by the certified professional guardian board established by the supreme court.
(4) The office shall require a public guardian to visit each incapacitated person for which public guardianship services are provided no less than monthly to be eligible for compensation.
(5) The office shall not petition for appointment of a public guardian for any individual. It may develop a proposal for the legislature to make affordable legal assistance available to petition for guardianships.
(6) The office shall not authorize payment for services for any entity that is serving more than twenty incapacitated persons per certified professional guardian.
(7) The office shall monitor and oversee the use of state funding to ensure compliance with this chapter.
(8) The office shall collect uniform and consistent basic data elements regarding service delivery. This data shall be made available to the legislature and supreme court in a format that is not identifiable by individual incapacitated person to protect confidentiality.
(9) The office shall report to the legislature on how services other than guardianship services, and in particular services that might reduce the need for guardianship services, might be provided under contract with the office by December 1, 2009. The services to be considered should include, but not be limited to, services provided under powers of attorney given by the individuals in need of the services.
(10) The office shall require public guardianship providers to seek reimbursement of fees from program clients who are receiving long-term care services through the department of social and health services to the extent, and only to the extent, that such reimbursement may be paid, consistent with an order of the superior court, from income that would otherwise be required by the department to be paid toward the cost of the client's care. Fees reimbursed shall be remitted by the provider to the office unless a different disposition is directed by the public guardianship administrator.
(11) The office shall require public guardianship providers to certify annually that for each individual served they have reviewed the need for continued public guardianship services and the appropriateness of limiting, or further limiting, the authority of the public guardian under the applicable guardianship order, and that where termination or modification of a guardianship order appears warranted, the superior court has been asked to take the corresponding action.
(12) The office shall adopt a process for receipt and consideration of and response to complaints against the office and contracted providers of public guardianship services. The process shall include investigation in cases in which investigation appears warranted in the judgment of the administrator.
(13) The office shall contract with the Washington state institute for public policy for a study. An initial report is due two years following July 22, 2007, and a second report by December 1, 2011. The study shall analyze costs and off-setting savings to the state from the delivery of public guardianship services.
(14) The office shall develop standardized forms and reporting instruments that may include, but are not limited to, intake, initial assessment, guardianship care plan, decisional accounting, staff time logs, changes in condition or abilities of an incapacitated person, and values history. The office shall collect and analyze the data gathered from these reports.
(15) The office shall identify training needs for guardians it contracts with, and shall make recommendations to the supreme court, the certified professional guardian board, and the legislature for improvements in guardianship training. The office may offer training to individuals providing services pursuant to this chapter or to individuals who, in the judgment of the administrator or the administrator's designee, are likely to provide such services in the future.
(16) The office shall establish a system for monitoring the performance of public guardians, and office staff shall make in-home visits to a randomly selected sample of public guardianship clients. The office may conduct further monitoring, including in-home visits, as the administrator deems appropriate. For monitoring purposes, office staff shall have access to any information relating to a public guardianship client that is available to the guardian.
(17) During the first five years of its operations, the office shall issue annual reports of its activities.


*Reviser's note: Chapter 39.29 RCW was repealed by 2012 c 224 § 29, effective January 1, 2013. See chapter 39.26 RCW.

Waiver of court costs.

The courts shall waive court costs and filing fees in any proceeding in which an incapacitated person is receiving public guardianship services funded under this chapter.

Administrator may develop rules.

The public guardianship administrator may develop rules to implement this chapter. The administrator shall request and consider recommendations from the *advisory committee in the development of rules.


*Reviser's note: Section 5, chapter 364, Laws of 2007, which provided for the advisory committee, was vetoed by the governor.

Decision-making authority training—Legal community and persons working in long-term care facilities.

The office of public guardianship, in partnership with the office of the state long-term care ombuds, must develop and offer training targeted to the legal community and persons working in long-term care facilities regarding the different kinds of decision-making authority, including guardianship, authority granted under power of attorney, and surrogate health care decision-making authority. The training must include, at a minimum, information regarding: The roles, duties, and responsibilities of different kinds of decision makers; the scope of authority and limitations on authority with respect to different kinds of decision makers; and any relevant remedial measures provided in law for activity that exceeds the scope of decision-making authority.