11.130.275  <<  11.130.280 >>   11.130.285

Appointment and role of court visitor. (Effective January 1, 2022.)

(1) On receipt of a petition under RCW 11.130.270 for appointment of a guardian for an adult, the court shall appoint a court visitor. The court visitor must be an individual with training or experience in the type of abilities, limitations, and needs alleged in the petition.
(2) The court, in the order appointing a court visitor, shall specify the hourly rate the court visitor may charge for his or her services, and shall specify the maximum amount the court visitor may charge without additional court review and approval. The fee shall be charged to the person subject to a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding 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 person subject to a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding, 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 court visitor 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.
(3)(a) The court visitor appointed under subsection (1) of this section 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, the respondent or his or her legal counsel, the petitioner or his or her legal counsel, and any interested party entitled to notice under RCW 11.130.080 with a statement including: His or her training relating to the duties as a court visitor; 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 court visitor 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 court visitor's statement, any party may set a hearing and file and serve a motion for an order to show cause why the court visitor 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.
(b) Notice of the hearing shall be provided to the court visitor and all parties. If, after a hearing, the court enters an order replacing the court visitor, findings shall be included, expressly stating the reasons for the removal. If the court visitor 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.
(4) A court visitor appointed under subsection (1) of this section shall interview the respondent in person and, in a manner the respondent is best able to understand:
(a) Explain to the respondent the substance of the petition, the nature, purpose, and effect of the proceeding, the respondent's rights at the hearing on the petition, and the general powers and duties of a guardian;
(b) Determine the respondent's views about the appointment sought by the petitioner, including views about a proposed guardian, the guardian's proposed powers and duties, and the scope and duration of the proposed guardianship; and
(c) Inform the respondent that all costs and expenses of the proceeding, including the respondent's attorney's fees, may be paid from the respondent's assets.
(5) The court visitor appointed under subsection (1) of this section shall:
(a) Interview the petitioner and proposed guardian, if any;
(b) Visit the respondent's present dwelling and any dwelling in which it is reasonably believed the respondent will live if the appointment is made;
(c) Obtain information from any physician or other person known to have treated, advised, or assessed the respondent's relevant physical or mental condition; and
(d) Investigate the allegations in the petition and any other matter relating to the petition the court directs.
(6) A court visitor appointed under subsection (1) of this section shall file a report in a record with the court and provide a copy of the report to the respondent, petitioner, and any interested party entitled to notice under RCW 11.130.080 at least fifteen days prior to the hearing on the petition filed under RCW 11.130.270, which must include:
(a) A summary of self-care and independent living tasks the respondent can manage without assistance or with existing supports, could manage with the assistance of appropriate supportive services, technological assistance, or supported decision making, and cannot manage;
(b) A recommendation regarding the appropriateness of guardianship, including whether a protective arrangement instead of guardianship or other less restrictive alternative for meeting the respondent's needs is available and:
(i) If a guardianship is recommended, whether it should be full or limited; and
(ii) If a limited guardianship is recommended, the powers to be granted to the guardian;
(c) A statement of the qualifications of the proposed guardian and whether the respondent approves or disapproves of the proposed guardian;
(d) A statement whether the proposed dwelling meets the respondent's needs and whether the respondent has expressed a preference as to residence;
(e) A statement whether the respondent declined a professional evaluation under RCW 11.130.290 and what other information is available to determine the respondent's needs and abilities without the professional evaluation;
(f) A statement whether the respondent is able to attend a hearing at the location court proceedings typically are held;
(g) A statement whether the respondent is able to participate in a hearing and which identifies any technology or other form of support that would enhance the respondent's ability to participate; and
(h) Any other matter the court directs.
(7) The appointment of a court visitor has no effect on the determination of the adult respondent's legal capacity and does not overcome the presumption of legal capacity or full legal and civil rights of the adult respondent.

NOTES:

Effective dates2020 c 312: See note following RCW 11.130.915.
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