Alleged incapacitated individuals shall have the right to be represented by willing counsel of their choosing at any stage in guardianship proceedings. When, in the opinion of the court, the rights and interests of an alleged or adjudicated incapacitated person cannot otherwise be adequately protected and represented, the court on its own motion shall appoint an attorney at any time.
Counsel for an alleged incapacitated individual shall act as an advocate for the client and shall not substitute counsel's own judgment for that of the client on the subject of what may be in the client's best interests. Counsel's role shall be distinct from that of a guardian ad litem, who is expected to promote the best interest of the alleged incapacitated individual, rather than the alleged incapacitated individual's expressed preferences.
RPC 1.14 (a) When a client's capacity to make adequately considered decisions in connection with a representation is diminished, whether because of minority, mental impairment or for some other reason, the lawyer shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal client-lawyer relationship with the client. (b) When the lawyer reasonably believes that the client has diminished capacity, is at risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm unless action is taken and cannot adequately act in the client's own interest, the lawyer may take reasonably necessary protective action, including consulting with individuals or entities that have the ability to take action to protect the client and, in appropriate cases, seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem, conservator or guardian.
There is no absolute right to self-representation in guardianship hearing. Guardianship of Meriwether, 105 Wash. App. 1025, No. 23165-4-II, slip op. (Wash. Ct. App. March 23, 2001).
- Wash. Rev. Code Ann. 2.72.005: http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=2.72&full=true
- Wash. Rev. Code Ann. 11.88.005: http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=11.88&full=true