How long does a guardianship last?

Guardianships are normally perpetual as long as the client remains legally incapacitated and as long as the guardian remains competent and meets the statutory requirements. Only an order of the court that initially established the guardianship can terminate it. If a guardian does not report regularly to the court the guardianship can become delinquent. Reports occur on a one, two, or three year basis and allow the court to ensure the guardian is making appropriate decisions and managing the client’s money properly. A guardianship can be inactivated by the court if the reporting requirements are not followed.

Once the guardian is appointed, they receive “Letters of Guardianship”. Often, the Letters terminate upon a date, which coincides with the date when the guardians’ next report is due. If the guardian fails to report and obtain renewed letters, and the previous letters expire, the guardian no longer has Court authority to act on behalf of the incapacitated person, although they remain legally liable for their actions. Consequently, when DSHS is informed that a guardian has been appointed for a client, it is a good idea for DSHS to obtain a copy of the order and most recently issued Letters of Guardianship.