11.88.040  <<  11.88.045 >>   11.88.080

RCW 11.88.045

Legal counsel and jury trial—Proof—Medical report—Examinations—Waiver.

(1)(a) Alleged incapacitated individuals shall have the right to be represented by willing counsel of their choosing at any stage in guardianship proceedings. The court shall provide counsel to represent any alleged incapacitated person at public expense when either: (i) The individual is unable to afford counsel, or (ii) the expense of counsel would result in substantial hardship to the individual, or (iii) the individual does not have practical access to funds with which to pay counsel. If the individual can afford counsel but lacks practical access to funds, the court shall provide counsel and may impose a reimbursement requirement as part of a final order. When, in the opinion of the court, the rights and interests of an alleged or adjudicated incapacitated person cannot otherwise be adequately protected and represented, the court on its own motion shall appoint an attorney at any time to represent such person. Counsel shall be provided as soon as practicable after a petition is filed and long enough before any final hearing to allow adequate time for consultation and preparation. Absent a convincing showing in the record to the contrary, a period of less than three weeks shall be presumed by a reviewing court to be inadequate time for consultation and preparation.
(b) Counsel for an alleged incapacitated individual shall act as an advocate for the client and shall not substitute counsel's own judgment for that of the client on the subject of what may be in the client's best interests. Counsel's role shall be distinct from that of the guardian ad litem, who is expected to promote the best interest of the alleged incapacitated individual, rather than the alleged incapacitated individual's expressed preferences.
(c) If an alleged incapacitated person is represented by counsel and does not communicate with counsel, counsel may ask the court for leave to withdraw for that reason. If satisfied, after affording the alleged incapacitated person an opportunity for a hearing, that the request is justified, the court may grant the request and allow the case to proceed with the alleged incapacitated person unrepresented.
(2) During the pendency of any guardianship, any attorney purporting to represent a person alleged or adjudicated to be incapacitated shall petition to be appointed to represent the incapacitated or alleged incapacitated person. Fees for representation described in this section shall be subject to approval by the court pursuant to the provisions of RCW 11.92.180.
(3) The alleged incapacitated person is further entitled to testify and present evidence and, upon request, entitled to a jury trial on the issues of his or her alleged incapacity. The standard of proof to be applied in a contested case, whether before a jury or the court, shall be that of clear, cogent, and convincing evidence.
(4) In all proceedings for appointment of a guardian or limited guardian, the court must be presented with a written report from a physician licensed to practice under chapter 18.71 or 18.57 RCW, psychologist licensed under chapter 18.83 RCW, or advanced registered nurse practitioner licensed under chapter 18.79 RCW, selected by the guardian ad litem. If the alleged incapacitated person opposes the health care professional selected by the guardian ad litem to prepare the medical report, then the guardian ad litem shall use the health care professional selected by the alleged incapacitated person. The guardian ad litem may also obtain a supplemental examination. The physician, psychologist, or advanced registered nurse practitioner shall have personally examined and interviewed the alleged incapacitated person within thirty days of preparation of the report to the court and shall have expertise in the type of disorder or incapacity the alleged incapacitated person is believed to have. The report shall contain the following information and shall be set forth in substantially the following format:
(a) The name and address of the examining physician, psychologist, or advanced registered nurse practitioner;
(b) The education and experience of the physician, psychologist, or advanced registered nurse practitioner pertinent to the case;
(c) The dates of examinations of the alleged incapacitated person;
(d) A summary of the relevant medical, functional, neurological, or mental health history of the alleged incapacitated person as known to the examining physician, psychologist, or advanced registered nurse practitioner;
(e) The findings of the examining physician, psychologist, or advanced registered nurse practitioner as to the condition of the alleged incapacitated person;
(f) Current medications;
(g) The effect of current medications on the alleged incapacitated person's ability to understand or participate in guardianship proceedings;
(h) Opinions on the specific assistance the alleged incapacitated person needs;
(i) Identification of persons with whom the physician, psychologist, or advanced registered nurse practitioner has met or spoken regarding the alleged incapacitated person.
The court shall not enter an order appointing a guardian or limited guardian until a medical or mental status report meeting the above requirements is filed.
The requirement of filing a medical report is waived if the basis of the guardianship is minority.
(5) During the pendency of an action to establish a guardianship, a petitioner or any person may 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.
NOTES:
Intent1996 c 249: See note following RCW 2.56.030.
Effective date1990 c 122: See note following RCW 11.88.005.
Severability1977 ex.s. c 309: See note following RCW 11.88.005.
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