Reporting To The Court When You Are Guardian Of The Estate

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REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATEINDEXPageIntroduction2Before Accepting the Position2After Accepting the Position3First 90 Days3Four Common Steps You Must Do4Guardianship Reports5The Initial Report or 90 Day Report5Standby Guardian6The Annual Report6Other Reports7Some Situations to Seek Court Authority Are8Closing the Guardianship and Final Reports8Where to Find Forms and Attachments to Reports.9Helpful Tip9APPENDIXABCDEFGHIJOath of Guardian/Letters of GuardianshipOrder Appointing GuardianInformation/Inventory WorksheetInventory IndexActivity/Time LogGuardianship InventoryBalance Sheet/Profit & LossAnnual Report Recap WorksheetGuardian’s Report, Accounting, ProposedBudgetDesignation of Standby Guardian110-1112-2122-26272829 3233 - 3536 - 4041 - 5253 - 54

REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATEBeing responsible for a person’s financial estate should be carefully considered. As aguardian, you are assuming the responsibility to care for the financial estate of anotherperson. You may have already been doing this for your friend or family member.However once you are appointed as guardian, your relationship changes from justpersonal to one that the Court will oversee and remain involved in. Sometimes bymaking decisions for the person in a guardianship, the person in a guardianship or hisfamily members may be resentful of the fact that you now have special authority that theydon’t have.Guardians must do everything they can to make plans for the person in a guardianship inthe least restrictive manner. Guardians must take into account the wishes of the personin a guardianship. To the guardian’s best ability they must always make sure that theperson in a guardianship is able to live in ways that offer the greatest amount of freedomconsidering the person in a guardianship’s circumstances. The Guardian must ask theperson in a guardianship what he/she would like and try to keep them involved in thedecision making as much as possible.BEFORE ACCEPTING THE POSITION1. Ask for and review the redacted Guardian ad Litem Report by the Guardian adLitema. Read itb. Determine the circumstances of the person in a guardianshipc. Determine if you have the skills and time to handle the financial estate ofthe person in a guardianshipd. This report should give you basic information such as:i. Discussion of Assets & Liabilitiesii. Descriptions of Income and Costsiii. Wishes of the incapacitated person2. Ask for and read the Proposed Court Order (Appendix B)a. Review and understand the Proposed Court Order (preferably with anattorney)b. Bonded/not bonded; blocked/unblocked accounts. Is a bond required?c. Are you being appointed as full or limited Guardian; do you know whatthe limits or duties are?d. Do you have the Power to sell house, car, or collection?e. Do you have the Power to make investments?f. Will you be paid?3. Complete the Guardianship Training Program2

REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATEAFTER ACCEPTING THE POSITION1. Come prepared to Courta. If no Bond required:i. Guardian Oathii. Letters of Guardianship (See Appendix A)iii. Take to the Clerk of the Court to get “filed” and “Certified” copies.b. If a bond is required:i. Fill out a bond applicationii. Once appointed then obtain a “filed” or “Certified” copy of theCourt Order for the bond companyiii. Take the bond letter of acceptance (the Bond may require asignature of a judge), the Guardian Oath and the Letters ofGuardianship to Clerk of Courtc. If the guardianship is a Medicaid casei. Fax or deliver a copy of the Court Order and your Letters ofGuardianship to your local Department of Social & HealthServices.ii.2. Set up a portable legal filea. Letter of Guardianshipb. Court Order Appointing Guardianc. Contact/Information Sheeti. Social Security Numberii. Birth dateiii. Family/friends contact informationiv. Medical card, Doctor and other medical numbersv. POLSTvi. Bank informationFIRST 90 DAYSThe first 90 days of the guardianship are the most hectic. You need to do the following,if not more:1. Visit your person in a guardianship.2. Visit your person in a guardianship’s home. Look for bills, tax returns,inventory information.3. Look for a Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy or any other contract createdby the person in a guardianship and Military discharge paperwork.4. Make a plan on how to pay for the Person in a guardianship’s care.5. Establish a “Guardianship” checking account. Change bank accounts;however be aware of beneficiary designations. Talk to your attorney aboutbeneficiary designations.6. Identify sources of Income3

REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATE7. Identify the person in a guardianship’s eligibility for public benefits8. Verify or arrange for prepaid burial expenses9. Determine if you need to be appointed Representative Payee for SocialSecurity or Rail Road Retirement or Pensions10. Search for unclaimed property11. Search for safe deposit boxes12. Search for insurance policies and cancel unnecessary ones13. Search for Investments14. Locate real property: homes, land, vehicles, boats, guns15. File tax returns16. Verify real estate taxes are paid17. Find credit cards18. Pay bills and outstanding debt19. Change of address for some, if not all, the mail20. Begin an Inventory, marshal the assets and protect the assets. (You may haveto ask for them back from other family members or friends.)21. Determine if the person in a guardianship owns any assets that are in theprotection of others. If so, request the person possessing the asset to return theasset.22. All of this keeping in mind that the person in a guardianship has his or herrights and you must honor them and should keep them involved as much aspossible in the decision making.Tip: Appendix C is an Information/Inventory Worksheet that may prove useful ingathering information during the first 90 days.Tip: Use a notebook to document your beginning inventory. This notebook shouldinclude the description, value and location of each item listed on the inventory. Forexample, if the home is valued at 350,000, there should be an address of the home,picture of the home, and a copy of the appraisal or market value comparison. (SomeCourts only require the tax value for reporting.) Investments as of the date ofappointment would be an investment statement or print off from the investment companyas of that date. Document how the value was set. See Appendix D Inventory Index.Tip: Carry a camera. If nothing else get a picture of the item, who has possession of itand its location.FOUR COMMON STEPS YOU MUST DO:1.Set up a filing system:Keeping accounting records for a guardianship is a large responsibility. Depending inwhich jurisdiction you are in, you will have to produce copies of bills and checks for anaudit or copies for your Court reporting. It is important to set up a filing systemimmediately and be diligent in keeping records. The best one is one that works for you.4

REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATE2.Set up an accounting system:In your first annual report you will have to give an accounting of what income wasreceived and how the money was spent. If you become the Social SecurityRepresentative Payee, you will have to report on the use of the funds. If you are aguardian for a Person in a guardianship on Medicaid, you will have to report annuallyhow the person in a guardianship’s income was spent to maintain the person in aguardianship’s eligibility for Medicaid. Use a check register or QuickBooks (or similarprogram) to maintain your accounting records. Balance each bank account monthly andattach to the bank statement a “detailed” reconciliation. The ease of using an accountingprogram is worth the cost. You may wish to hire out the accounting for the guardianshipdepending on the depth of the accounting.3.Activity Log or Time LogYou may be performing the duties of guardianship for no pay. Or you may be paid fromDSHS, the minimum state amount of 175 per month. Or you may be being paid fromthe person in a guardianship’s assets. It does not matter. You must maintain some typeof record that documents your activities and the time spent. Such record serves as proofthat you are fulfilling your duties as the guardian. This activity log or time log should bekept up continuously. It should detail the date, activity description, and time spent at aminimum. See Appendix E Activity/Time Log.4.DocumentDocument, document, and document. Guardianship must be transparent, with no selfserving activities. You must be able to report to the Court and person in a guardianship’sfamily what you have done. Being responsible for another’s financial assets addsadditional steps that should be observed to protect the assets, how the guardian isperceived. Sloppy records equals sloppy guardian.GUARDIANSHIP REPORTSGuardians must report to the court, in a court approved form, all information about theguardianship. You must report how you are taking care of the person in a guardianship’saffairs, your plans for the person in a guardianship, how much money the person in aguardianship has and how it was spent, and any other information that might provevaluable to the court.The Initial Report or 90 Day ReportInventory ReportThe first accounting the guardian must do is to report to the court within 90 days ofappointment, the Inventory of items that comes to the possession or knowledge of theguardian. This “snap shot” establishes the items that the guardian is responsible for. Atthe same time, a statement of all encumbrances, liens, and secured charges should becompiled. This document set the stage of the guardian’s responsibility and the startingpoint of the accounting for the first year.5

REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATEIf you are financially able and are using an attorney, he or she will have the appropriatereport produced for your review and for the court filing. Appendix F is an example of a90 day report using the Superior Court of Spokane Guardianship Forms.Standby GuardianWithin this 90 day period from the date of appointment, a standby guardian must bedesignated. A written notice to the Court must comply with the requirements of RCW11.88.125. This requirement may be filled at the time of appointment or at the 90 dayreport period with the Inventory. The purpose of a standby guardian is to havecontinuous support for your person in a guardianship if you will be unavailable for aperiod of time such death, illness or vacation. Prior to a planned absence the guardianshould file a petition and give notice to all interested parties of the standby guardianassuming all or limited duties while the guardian is absence. A standby guardian shallhave the authority to provide timely, informed consent to necessary medical procedure, asauthorized in RCW 11.92.043, if the guardian cannot be located within four hours afterthe need for such consent arises. Appendix J Designation of Standby GuardianThe Annual ReportThis report or “Annual Accounting” covers the period from your date of appointment.This report may vary from one to three years depending on the assets the Person in aguardianship possesses and the Judge. You have ninety days after the end of theguardianship fiscal year to report a detailed accounting of all income received and allexpenses paid. For example, if appointed May 17, 2016, the fiscal year will end May 16,2017. Begin with the beginning Inventory, you must explain all changes and account foryour ending Inventory. It provides the mechanism for requesting reimbursement for outof-pocket expenses you have had while taking care of the person in a guardianship’saffairs. It also provides the means to a request for your compensation, if required. SeeAppendix G for a detailed worksheet that may be used to produce the Annual Report.The benefits of the Annual Accounting are:1.2.3.Limits Guardian’s liability by limiting the time during which a legal challengemay be broughtGreat time to request guidance from the Court on issuesObtains approval on your actionsIf your attorney explained to you how to do the accounting necessary for the Court reportand you understood it, congratulations. However, if you did not keep good records anddid not keep a minimum of a check register, then congratulations you are like hundreds ofguardians. You have options: 1. Give it all to the attorney to recap; 2. Hire anaccountant who is familiar with guardianship/trust accounting to recap; 3.Hire a familymember, friend or yourself to recap.6

REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATETIP:Accounting for a guardianship asset does not follow the generally accepted accountingprincipals. Income is shown as 100% of what you receive plus grossed up for anyexpenses netted out. For example: You sold the house. (You had people bid on it, gavethe judge all offers, judge selected or approved your recommendation, you advertised forthe required amount of time, no one offered 10% more of the judge’s selection and thehouse closed.) The house sold for 300,000, expenses to sell were 25,000 and the housewas valued at 278,000 on the Inventory.Your entries would be:Debit: Cash/CheckingDebit: Cost of House SaleCredit: House Sale 275,000 25,000( 300,000)ExpenseExpenseIncomeThen to remove the House from your Inventory:Debit: Adjustment: HouseCredit: House 278,000 278,000AdjustmentAsset (amount valued)TIP:Investments - use market adjustments.OTHER REPORTSA word about reports: use the appropriate form for your county. These forms will varyon looks and still maintain the same basic information necessary for the Court reporting.If your county does not have required forms, then use ones provided by the WashingtonAdministrative Office of the Courts. Many attorneys over the years have developed theirown forms that are acceptable in their jurisdiction.The basic forms are:’s Report and AccountingPetition for Approval of Budget and DisbursementsOrder Approving Guardian’s Report, Accounting, Personal Care Plan andBudgetOrder Approving Budget and DisbursementsThere are other reports required of a guardian. Within 30 days of the occurrence, theCourt should be notified of a change of address or a change in circumstances of theperson in a guardianship. A change in circumstances could be a major change in assets,either increase or decrease. Depending on what the original or amended Court Ordersstate about selling assets of the Estate, you may need to ask the Court for Instructions or7

REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATEpermission to sell a house, car, or tangible personal property of the person in aguardianship.The Guardian should be aware whether a planned action has been approved by the Court,either in the original order or an order on petition for instructions. Does the guardian havepermission to sell the car, boat, or any other large item? Having a close relationship withyour attorney to help guide you through some of the situations you will encounter ispriceless.Remember the guardian has a fiduciary duty to the person in a guardianship to protect theperson in a guardianship’s assets. To act and use the assets for the benefit of the personin a guardianship, while keeping in mind the best interest of the person in a guardianship.Discuss your plans with your attorney before you act. If a guardian has any doubt as towhether he/she can act, then ask for instruction. For example: If the order is silent onyou being able to relocate your person in a guardianship, you cannot move the person in aguardianship until the Court gives you permission to do so.SOME SITUATIONS TO SEEK COURT AUTHORITY ARE: property belonging to the person in a guardianshipSeeking Court authority for payment of fees to the Guardian, Guardian’sattorney or other professionals who perform services for the benefit of theguardianshipSeeking court authority to gift, sell, lease, mortgage, or grant an easement,license or similar interest in any of the real property of the Person in aguardianshipSeeking court authority to gift, sell, donate or dispose of personal property ofthe person in a guardianshipSeeking court authority to make any major changes in the form of the personin a guardianship’s assetsSeeking court authority to compromise claim against or debt of theguardianship estateSeeking court authority to perform other actions that are not listed ordescribed in the original order appointing the guardianSeeking court authority to move the person in a guardianship to a differentcounty within Washington, or to another state (as long as the person in aguardianship agrees to the move)Seeking court authority to file a petition for dissolution of marriage or registerdomestic partnership of the person in a guardianshipSelling of the house – consistent with RCW 11.90.090-125 and the process ofdoing soCLOSING THE GUARDIANSHIP AND FINAL REPORTSIf a change in guardians needs to occur or when the person in a guardianship dies, theguardianship may need to be closed (when person in a guardianship dies) or a resigning8

REPORTING TO THE COURT WHEN YOU ARE GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATEguardian needs to file an accounting and seek its approval. Within 90 days, the Guardianmust file a final report and/or accounting with the Court. Then, the Guardian musttransfer the remaining assets to the appropriate new guardian or personal representativeof the Estate within 30 days. Notice should be sent to the various parties concerning thisaction. After the report is approved by the Court, the Guardian is discharged and if abond is in place, the bond will be exonerated.Forms are: of Guardian’s Intent to Resign and Petition to Appoint SuccessorGuardianNotice of Death of Incapacitated PersonPetition for Order Approving Guardian’s Activities and Final ReportOrder Approving Guardian’s Final ReportPetition for Order Closing Guardianship and Discharging GuardianOrder Closing Guardianship, Discharging Guardian and Exonerating BondDeclaration of ServiceWHERE TO FIND FORMS AND ATTCHMENTS TO REPORTS.First check with the county you are in. It is easy to do a search such as “King CountyGuardianship Forms”. If your county does not post them, then use the Washington CourtsForms found at: Often your attorney will have forms theyhave developed that are acceptable by the Court.I do encourage the use of an experienced attorney with guardianships. That second pairof eyes reviewing your reporting, the knowledge of what and when something is due, andwhat the Court expects to be attached, will save you many hours of headache. Discusswith the guardianship attorney what will be needed for the reporting. Will you need toattach copies of checks and bills? Will your work be audited? Do they want copies of allthe bank statements or just the fiscal year end one? You can save time by knowing whatis needed at the time of reporting.HELPFUL TIPAs the Guardian of the Estate you should make yourself familiar with the RCW’s thatyou are required to follow. ( 11.88). Readingthe RCWs will help guide you through the process of guardianship. They explain yourduties and what you can and can’t do. In addition to the RCWs and your attorney, askquestions of Certified Professional Guardians and other Lay Guardians. Form a supportgroup or join an existing organization. Go to seminars. The more you learn and interactwith others, the easier your job will be as the Guardian of the Estate.9

Appendix AOATH OF GUARDIANLETTERS OF GUARDIANSHIPSuperior Court of WashingtonCounty ofIn the Guardianship of:No. 03-4-00150-10Jane Doe, Incapacitated PersonOath of GuardianRCW 11.88.100(OA)Being first duty sworn upon oath, I Susanne Altman solemnly swear that:1.I have been appointed:[ ] Full [ ] Limited Guardian of the Person and[ X ] Full [ ] Limited Guardian of the Estate of Jane Doe (the Incapacitated Person).2.I shall fa

iii. Take the bond letter of acceptance (the Bond may require a signature of a judge), the Guardian Oath and the Letters of Guardianship to Clerk of Court c. If the guardianship is a Medicaid case i. Fax or deliver a copy of the Court Order and your Letters of Guardianship to your local Department of Social & Health Services. ii. 2.

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