How to Terminate Guardianship?

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 What Are Some Reasons to End or Limit Guardianship?

A court can terminate guardianship when guardianship is no longer needed. For instance, a court can end a guardianship if it discovers that the incapacitated person can care for themselves and their property. As another example, a court may limit guardianship if the incapacitated person only requires help in certain areas of life, such as personal finances.

Below are some scenarios of why an individual may choose to terminate a guardianship:

  • Death: When the ward passes away, a final accounting is required to close a guardianship over an estate. A hearing is needed to approve the final accounting and close the case;
  • Age of Majority: This only applies if the ward was a child who has now turned 18;
  • Parents Will Care for the Child: Guardianships can be closed if the ward is a child and the parents are now able to care for them;
  • Moved Out of State: A guardianship may end if the ward has moved to another state and the guardianship has been received in a new state and;
  • Competency: This only applies if the ward is now an adult who is both competent and able to manage their daily affairs. Two doctors need to certify that the person is competent, and any request to end a guardianship on the grounds of competency of the adult has to be supported by two letters from two doctors stating the ward is competent indeed.

For instance, in the state of Washington, any person can request the court in which a guardianship was created to order the termination or modification of the guardianship or replace the guardian with a new guardian. If the person seeking the request has a lawyer, the lawyer must file a motion in court.

However, a person making the request is not mandated to have a lawyer for this procedure. If the individual does not have an attorney, the individual may submit a complaint to the court addressed to the clerk, the court administrator, or the guardianship monitoring program instead of filing a motion. A guardian complaint form can be located on the Washington Courts website. A person drafting a complaint can write a letter instead of using this form.

The written complaint must include the following:

  • The court case number of the guardianship (if available);
  • The name and address (if available) of the person who has a guardian and;
  • The name and address of the person making the complaint;

Furthermore, there need to be facts supporting the complaint, such as:

  • Guardian’s name and address;
  • The duration the guardianship has been in place;
  • Where and when the guardianship was created;
  • Reasons why the guardianship should be changed or terminated; and
  • Any circumstances that have changed since the guardianship was put in place.

What Happens After a Request is Made to Modify or Terminate Guardianship?

After the court clerk, administrator, or guardianship monitoring program receives the written complaint, they must deliver the complaint to the judge the next day when the court is in session. Within 14 days of being presented with the complaint, the court needs to enter an order to do one or more of the following:

  • Direct the court clerk to schedule a court hearing about the complaint;
  • Appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the issues raised by the complaint;
  • Dismiss the complaint without scheduling a hearing if it shows that the complaint is frivolous, without merit, filed in bad faith or for an improper purpose, or is regarding issues that the court has already decided;
  • Direct the guardian to give a written report to the court on matters raised in the complaint;
  • Delay the consideration of the complaint until the next scheduled hearing on the guardianship;
  • Order another action, at the court’s discretion, in addition to one of the previous actions and;
  • If the court decides, after considering the complaint, that it was created without justification or meant to harass the other party or delay proceedings, the court may impose sanctions, including awards of attorney fees, court costs, or other appropriate relief.

If you are seeking to terminate a guardianship, it will require a court hearing in many cases. Anyone can file the papers—relatives, guardian, subject of the guardianship—and ask a judge to see if guardianship is still mandatory.

What are the Steps Required to Terminate Guardianship?

All sections must be filled out accordingly. This document informs the judge of the reasoning why guardianship is no longer required to complete a Petition to Terminate Guardianship and a Citation or Notice of Hearing. Remember to complete all the sections and attach any evidence supporting your argument.

Next, you need to file the Citation to Appear or Notice of Hearing, and after you file it, you will need to have a court date for the judge and any interested parties to appear in court. If the ward is still alive, complete the Citation to Appear and Show Cause; if they are passed, complete the Notice of Hearing. Now it is time to file the necessary paperwork, and you may file your documents in a few ways:

  • In-person at the family courthouse;
  • By mail;
  • By an online system;
  • Serve the Guardians and Other Parties and;
  • If this step is done incorrectly, the judge can cancel your hearing.

What Are the Steps Required to Overturn a Guardianship Agreement?

The steps to overturn a guardianship agreement will depend on the individual petitioning the reversal in addition to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the petition is being submitted. Most cases are started by filing a petition to terminate a guardianship within the same court that named the present guardian.

A petition for the dissolution of guardianship is legal documentation that requests the court to overturn the agreement and dissolve a guardian’s rights over their ward. Furthermore, other documentation might be required to be submitted with the petition, but this will vary on state law and local court regulations.

For instance, many courts will demand proof at this stage, demonstrating that a parent can receive their child back. After the paperwork is filed within the appropriate court and the relevant filing fees are paid, the petitioner will need to acquire stamped copies of their paperwork from the court clerk. The petitioner must now mail the stamped copies to any involved parties. Once these documents are mailed, the petitioner is mandated to file evidence service with the court. Later, the clerk will schedule a court hearing that the petitioner needs to attend.

As mentioned earlier, the court will determine whether overturning the guardianship agreement is in the ward’s best interests at the hearing. Once this process is complete, the court will issue an order to overturn or nullify the guardianship agreement. When not, the petitioner will have a right to appeal the court’s determination. In conclusion, it needs to be noted that the steps to dissolve an adult guardianship might differ from the ones required to overturn a guardianship for a minor ward.

When Do I Need To Contact a Lawyer?

If you have a guardianship set up or seek to terminate an existing guardianship. Researching the local regulations on guardianships in your state may be useful. You can consult with a local guardianship attorney to figure out what the process would be like for you in your current state.


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