The Certified Professional Guardian Board, a program run by the Washington state court system which governs certified professional guardians in Washington, has revised its standards for “meaningful in-person contact” with the incapacitated person. These changes were made following the Washington State Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Raven v. Department of Social and Health Services. While the Raven court held that the certified professional guardian of the person had not committed neglect, the court also criticized the certified professional guardian for failing to visit the incapacitated person frequently.
The regulations governing certified professional guardians now specify the frequency of “meaningful in-person contact” with the incapacitated person. Different standards apply to guardians of the person, who generally control the health care decision-making for an incapacitated person, versus guardians of the estate, who manage an incapacitated person’s assets. Under Regulation 404.1 and 404.3, certified professional guardian of the person must have meaningful in-person contact at least monthly, with flexibility to delegate some (but not all) visits to employees of the certified professional guardian or other persons approved by the court. While the Raven case did not concern a guardianship of the estate, Regulation 404.2 now requires a certified professional guardian of the estate to have meaningful in-person contact at least quarterly, “as appropriate and as necessary to verify the individual’s condition and status and the appropriateness of financial arrangements.” The regulations allow the requirements to be modified by court order.
Certified professional guardians should be mindful of the new standards, and document meaningful in-person contact for their files and in reports to the court. Additionally, while the regulations only govern certified professional guardians, non-professional guardians should be aware of the court system’s increased interest in a guardian’s visitation with the incapacitated person, evident in both the Raven decision and the new certified professional guardian standards.