Law Office of John S. Palmer Attorney at Law

(425) 455-5513

Guardianship Facilitators

Posted Thursday, April 23, 2015 by John S. Palmer

The Washington legislature has approved a bill permitting counties to establish guardianship facilitator programs to assist lay guardians and pro se litigants in guardianship cases. The bill (SB 5647) is expected to be signed by the governor and take effect later this year.

As with facilitators already used by many counties in family law cases, guardianship facilitators will be able to provide guidance on such matters as how to file a court petition or motion; local court rules, procedures and case schedules; and where to find necessary forms. Although they cannot give legal advice, they can review forms to ensure they are complete before filing.

There are thousands of existing guardianship cases in Washington, with over 2500 new cases filed each year. Many of these cases involve a friend or family member who volunteered to serve as guardian to help a loved one in need. Due to periodic changes in both state law and local court procedure, lay guardians often have difficulty fulfilling various obligations such as obtaining court approval of periodic status reports, seeking authority to perform an act requiring court approval (such as selling guardianship property) or notifying the court of any change in circumstances. Often the problem is simply figuring out how to schedule a court hearing and who to provide notice to. For these folks, a guardianship facilitator could be tremendously helpful.

The legislative reports summarizing the bill note that facilitators could be helpful to other unrepresented parties in guardianship proceedings. This could include a ward trying to modify or terminate the guardianship over them, or an interested party seeking to remove or replace a guardian who is not doing their job.

To help counties fund a guardianship facilitator program, the bill permits a fee of up to $20 to be imposed on cases filed under Washington’s guardianship statutes.

Other resources already available for those involved in guardianship proceedings include the free online training for lay guardians, as well as free guardianship forms available from the state court system website as well as the websites maintained by several county superior courts, including King and Spokane counties.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (425) 455-5513, toll free at (877) 455-5513, or

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Law Office of John S. Palmer11911 NE 1st St, Ste. B204,Bellevue, WA 98005-3056