Vulnerable Adult Protection

Washington has several laws that can be used to protect vulnerable adults. Thompson & Howle attorneys have extensive experience using these laws to help vulnerable adults.

Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders. A vulnerable adult may seek protection from actual or threatened abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect, by filing a petition for an order for protection in superior court. Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders are enforced by the police. Violation of a Vulnerable Adult Protection Order is a criminal offense.

A vulnerable adult is anyone
  • Over the age of 60 who has the functional, mental, or physical inability to care for himself or herself, or
  • Who is subject to a guardianship, or
  • Who is developmentally disabled, or
  • Who receives nursing home care or other types of personal care defined by the statute.
  • A Vulnerable Adult Protection Order petition may be brought by:
  • The vulnerable adult, or
  • The vulnerable adult’s family members, or
  • The vulnerable adult’s legal fiduciary, or
  • The Department of Social and Health Services.
Durable Power of Attorney Petitions. While powers of attorney generally function without the need for court involvement, court petitions are sometimes necessary to make sure that the power of attorney is working properly. Persons entitled to petition the court regarding a power of attorney are:
  • The attorney-in-fact, or
  • The principal (the person who granted the power of attorney), or
  • The spouse of the principal, or
  • The guardian of the principal, or
  • Any other interested person who can demonstrate a legitimate interest in the welfare of the principal and a good faith belief that the court’s intervention is necessary.
Issues that may be resolved by the court include: whether the power of attorney has terminated; whether an accounting is necessary; whether the attorney-in-fact has acted properly; whether the attorney-in-fact may pursue a particular course of action; whether the power of attorney should be changed; and whether the attorney-in-fact should be removed. Courts will consider the best interests of the principal and the least restrictive way to serve the principal’s best interests.