Guardianship, Probate, Trusts and Wills

The Guardianship laws in Washington have changed. Please see the New Guardian Laws Poster for changes in Washington's Guardianship laws. For mandatory guardianship training and information please visit:

What is Clark County's Guardianship Monitoring Program

The Clark County Guardianship Monitoring Program is committed to keeping incapacitated people safe from abuse and exploitation. The program was implemented to monitor guardian's handling of the care and financial affairs of incapacitated citizens. For the mandatory Guardianship training go to

What is a Guardianship?

The court appoints guardians for people who lack the capacity to make or communicate decisions. The purpose of a guardian is to protect the well being of a person with a mental or physical disability that otherwise would not be able to take care of themselves.

Guardianship and conservatorship are legal processes through which a person is given authority by the superior court to make decisions for another individual.  That individual is referred to as the “individual subject to guardianship” and/or the “individual subject to conservatorship”.  Depending on their circumstances, and individual may have either a guardianship or a conservatorship established, or both.  Guardians and conservators serve under the general direction and control of a superior court.

On January 1, 2022, RCW 11.88 was replaced withy RCW 11.130, also known as the Uniform Guardianship Act. A guardianship of the person will remain “Guardianship of the Person” while a guardianship of the estate is now titled “Conservator of the Estate.”

For more information and forms see:

What is a Minor Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal arrangement created when a court appoints someone to make decisions and take actions for someone else under RCW 11-130, a court can appoint a guardian for a minor who does not have a guardian under the following circumstances:

  1. Appointing a guardian is in the best interests of a minor, and
  2. One of the following is true:
    a. Each parent of the minor agrees after being informed about a guardianship means; or
    b. All parental rights have been terminated; or
    c. There is clear and convincing evidence that no parent of the minor is willing or able to exercise parenting functions as defined in 26.09.004.

For more information regarding minor guardianships, refer to the RCW’s lined above. For answers to frequently asked questions refer to FAQ’s developed by Washington Courts Administrative Office of the Courts.

What is a Probate?

After someone's death, their money and property (called an estate) must be distributed to their heirs. When supervised by the courts, this process is called probate. Probate is not always necessary, but in some situations, probate may be required. Probate may be preferable when you must pay debts , claims or taxes, of if you anticipate disagreement over division of the estate.

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that determines what happens to your property after your death. A will states who receives property and in what amounts. Property distributed under the terms of the will become the probate estate. in addition to distribution or transferring property, a will may have other functions such as to name a guardian for any minor children or to create a trust on behalf of children or others.

Will Repository

The Clerk's Office offers a will repository service. RCW 11.12.265 allows the filing of an original will with the court, under seal, before the death of the testator. The fee for this service is $20.00 per will or codicil as set by RCW 36.18.016(28).   The will may be withdrawn by the testator upon showing of proper identification. Any other person, such as an attorney or Guardian, may withdraw the original will only with a court order after showing of good cause. Upon request and presentation of a certified copy of the testator’s death certificate, the Clerk’s Office will unseal the file. If a probate file is opened at that time, the full filing fee must be charged per RCW 36.18.020(2)(f).

Forms and Additional Resources can be found here:

Pattern forms available at: Court Forms page