We know, this isn't the most exciting blog post title ever, but bear with us - Washington State has made some substantial changes to Guardianship Law that have the potential to empower adults ho have Guardians or Conservators to reach new levels of self-determination while still receiving guidance and support with State oversight. We'll do our best to sum up the changes as we see them, but please do click through to read the official documents, attend the free Washington State online training, etc. See below for links to all of these resources!
The changes that went into effect on January 1, 2022, are the final rollout of an overhaul to our State's Guardianship Law that began in 2019. According to the Reference Staff of the Washington Law Library, "In 2019 Washington overhauled its guardianship laws when it became the second state to adopt the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and other Protective Arrangements Act (UGCOPAA)."
This law applies to all Adult Guardianships in Washington State, no matter when the guardianship was started. This law also has aspects that apply to Conservatorships for adults and minors. It also covers Protective Arrangements, and a host of less restrictive arrangements, such as Supported Decision Making Agreements, and Power of Attorney. As one of the State handouts puts it, "The court must consider whether less restrictive alternatives, including a protective arrangement, would be sufficient to meet the adult's needs."
So that no one falls through the cracks of this new approach, everyone with an existing Guardianship or Conservatorship will need to complete the new State forms and go through this determination process with the appropriate court, either during your next scheduled Guardianship Review or sooner, as ordered by the court. Superior Courts in each county may also have their own new forms and processes for this, in addition to the State's new forms.
Here are some links to bring you up to speed, whether you're already part of a Guardianship or Conservatorship, or are still in the planning process for yourself or your family:
Washington Courts General Information Sheet