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Is total asset forfeiture for mental incompetence irrevocable?

Spokane, WA |

My friend was hospitalized when found living in unsanitary and unhealthy conditions, in his own home. Due to his extreme short term memory loss, the court appointed him a guardian (a stranger to him) seized all of his assets, auctioned them off, and placed him in a privately operated assisted living facility. He is always under supervision and without any spending money, and was never informed exactly how much his assets were worth. Does he have any options in terms of restoring individual autonomy or recovering some or all of his assets?

Attorney Answers 2


The law required to answer this question is state-specific, so, to be sure, please consult a guardianship/conservatorship attorney in Washington.

Generally speaking, though, the Court always has jurisdiction to revisit issues of competency. In addition, courts do not want to keep a person locked up if they can manage on their own. Here in Pennsylvania, the law requires that the Court inquire into the "least restrictive alternative" available.

Your question does not tell us the nature of your friend's problem, or whether it is acute or chronic. If possible, your friend should be evaluated by an independent physician to assess where he or she is at in terms of being able to manage independently, and then proceed from there.

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Yes, he has a lot of options. The Guardianship process in WA can be tailored to meet someone's specific competencies. Professional guardians have duties to the court and the individuals that can be enforced including a proper accounting. I would hesitate to say that his assets were "seized" as in the sense of not belonging to him any more, however the guardian can be granted the authority by the court to liquidate to raise cash for care. The funds still belong to him, but are probably in an account for his benefit. He can request an accounting. You probably wouldn't have any standing to investigate such things, although an attorney representing him can get things moving.

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