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When is a Person Incompetent?

A person may be legally incompetent because she is unable to care for her property or physical needs due to mental illness, developmental disability, senility, habitual drunkenness, excessive drug use, or other mental incapacity.  The terms “incompetent,” “disabled,” and “not legally competent” are synonymous with the term “incapacitated.”  RCW 11.88.010. 

A person is legally incapacitated when a superior court determines that he has a significant risk of injuring himself by failing to adequately provide for his nutrition, health, housing, or physical safety, or, when he has a significant risk of financial harm by failing to adequately manage his property or financial affairs, or both.  The determination of incapacity is a legal, not a medical opinion, based upon demonstrated inability to manage one’s person or estate.  Alone, neither age nor eccentricity nor poverty nor medical diagnosis justify a finding of incapacity.  RCW 11.88.010. 


Brad Lancaster works as a Seattle divorce attorney, and Seattle probate attorney, and Seattle elder law attorney, serving King County and Snohomish County, including Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Edmonds, Woodway, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Alderwood, Brier, Kenmore, Woodinville, Mukilteo, Mill Creek, and Everett.  Brad provides collaborative solutions to human conflict.

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