March 10, 2017 Lynnwood, Bellevue, and Seattle-Area Guardianship Attorneys See Sage’s entire interview for the Masters of Estate Planning series on ReelLawyers.com Sometimes life takes turns we do not anticipate. A debilitating stroke, an accident resulting in severe injuries, a money award to a minor, or any number of health, financial or life circumstances may bring about a situation requiring the administration of another person’s affairs. When this happens, a guardianship may need to be appointed and the responsibilities of a guardian are significant. He or she must properly care for the ward’s assets and are responsible to keep a proper accounting of the disposition of the ward’s assets. A guardian also has a duty to look out for the best interests of the ward. It would only take a few hours of your time for you to prepare for such unanticipated situations in advance. We at the law offices of Hickman Menashe, P.S., can draft powers of attorney for you, your spouse, and your parents or other adult loved ones. Those powers will allow for the efficient management of one’s medical and financial affairs and day-to-day living. The advantage of advance preparation is that the “attorney in fact,” as the person named in the power of attorney is called, can make decisions and manage finances without court oversight. Therefore, you save time, delay, and potential headaches. To get started on your case right now with no obligation whatsoever, simply complete our Confidential Consultation Form or give us a call at 425-744-5658. Let us start working on your guardianship and/or trust case immediately. Circumstances May Dictate That a Guardian Must be Appointed A guardianship is always a last resort, as it restricts the rights and freedoms of the individual in need of care. This is of particular significance in the case of an adult. The goal of a guardianship is to provide maximum protection with the least restrictive conditions on the person who needs a guardian. However, when such a situation arises, and there has been no contingency pre-planning, a legal guardian must be established. This is done through the courts. Typically, a relative or other concerned person files a petition asking that the alleged incapacitated person, the person who will be subject to the guardianship, be declared in need of a guardianship. The petitioner may also petition for his or her own appointment as guardian. Once the guardianship is established, the guardian will have duties that will vary with the nature of the case. In a minor guardianship, the guardian may have to invest money. In an elder guardianship, the guardian may need to see to it that all the necessities of life and medical care are provided. The court oversees initial plans and future annual accounts and reports. Sometimes, in very difficult cases, another court process, called a vulnerable adult petition, is filed instead of or in addition to a guardianship to insure that a vulnerable adult receives necessary protection against abuse or exploitation. Our attorneys will guide you each step of the way with: Education about the guardianship process and responsibilities/duties Assessment of the needs of the allegedly incapacitated person Petitioning the court for appointment of a guardian Assistance with required follow-up reporting An important aspect of a guardianship can be the need to protect the ward’s assets and help them with financial and life management. Lynnwood, Bellevue, and Seattle-Area Trust Administration Attorneys A person who has been appointed as a trustee of a trust has significant responsibilities and a duty to carry out these responsibilities. A trustee occupies a position of trust. It is important that you, as the trustee, seek experienced and knowledgeable legal advice on how to most effectively carry out your legal obligations. The trustee must manage the assets that belong to another, who is called the beneficiary (also known as the “principal beneficiary”). The trustee owes a duty to the beneficiary, and to any residual beneficiaries who may be entitled to trust funds upon the death of the principal beneficiary. One of the benefits of trusts is that they are flexible and can be designed to fit the needs of a special needs individual, spouse or minor children. The needs of different categories of beneficiaries can determine the responsibility and duty that a trustee is bound by. A trustee’s position is not without its potential liabilities. There may be disgruntled relatives who are jealous of the trustee’s authority, or the beneficiary’s wealth. A residual beneficiary may be convinced that no one could handle so much money for another without putting some of it in their pocket. These trust administration situations can result in litigation. A trustee needs the advice of a knowledgeable trust administration attorney. We often advise trustees on their responsibilities and duties. Contact us to discuss your trust administration matter. At Hickman Menashe, P.S., Our attorneys can assist you in your duty of trust administration. This will include: Adhering to the terms of the trust Complying with the laws of the State of Washington Working with accountants regarding accountings and federal and state tax returns We have particular experience in dealing with special needs trusts. Some trusts provide for life care for the beneficiary. Other kinds of trusts, like testamentary trusts which are established in a will, provide for payouts to children at intervals upon reaching their age of majority. Whatever the terms of your trust, we can provide you with solid trust administration counsel based on more than 50+ years of experience. Concerns regarding the management of trusts If you are a beneficiary or residual beneficiary, or a concerned relative, and you have reasonable grounds to suspect that a trustee is not acting properly, or fulfilling his or her role diligently, you may want to come in to discuss the matter with us. If you feel that a trustee is not upholding the highest standards, we can help you. We know what to look for and what questions to ask and, if litigation becomes necessary, we will help pursue it. Contact the Law Office of Hickman Menashe, P.S. For a private consultation with an experienced attorney, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 425-744-5658. For client convenience we have a second office in Bellevue. We offer flexible meeting times to accommodate your schedule. Home and hospital visits can be arranged, if necessary. Our offices are accessible to persons with disabilities.