Washington State has a detailed guardianship law designed to protect incapacitated persons. There are many safeguards in this process and attorneys are generally involved as the procedure is complex and can be expensive. For persons who have no resources or family, Adult Protective Services can initiate guardianship proceedings with the help of an assistant attorney general for the State of Washington.

There are three basic types of guardianships: Guardianship of the Person; Guardianship of the Estate; and Limited (temporary) Guardianship. Often, an incapacitated person needs guardians of both the Person and the Estate. Any interested person can Petition the Court for Guardianship. The Court will appoint a guardian ad litem to review the case and report back to the Court. The initial procedure takes about 2 months to complete. If the Court finds that the person is incompetent, they will appoint a Guardian who then takes on the burden of reporting its activities on a regular basis to the Court.