About Us

The Guardian Institute provides support to lay and professional guardians, and to individuals under guardianship.We develop solutions to meet the need for guardians for our very low income incapacitated individuals who have no family or friends and do not have funds to pay for professional guardianship services.

Studies show that many individuals with disabilities have been abused in some way during their lifetime and need an advocate.

With our aging population, the elderly are increasingly vulnerable to abuse and financial exploitation. These individuals need advocacy and competent oversight to stay as safe and as independent as possible.

The Guardian Institute stands ready to help those who help our most vulnerable.


time iconApril 24, 2024 07:45 am

Leah Rathwell: Family Feud Final

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Leah Rathwell

Get ready to play the Feud!  Leah Rathwell, CPGC, will present results from our Guardian Institute conference registration "survey," and contestants will try to guess the top answers given by all our statewide attendees. We will reveal interesting demographic and CPGC business trends in Washington State, and will identify the most pressing challenges and concerns we have for our clients, our businesses, and as a profession. We'll also discuss the benefits of networking with other CPGCs and professionals in our field and present opportunities to do so at the GI conference and beyond.

time iconApril 24, 2024 09:15 am

Darryl Lynch: What Your Financial Advisor Isn't Telling You: A Fiduciary's Handbook and Roadmap to Standardized Procedures and Investment Success

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Darryl Lynch
Managing Director-Investments at Oppenheimer Co. Inc

This presentation will take you step-by-step through the process and procedures of fulfilling your responsibilities as a conservator and reducing your liability at the same time. You will gain useful tools, techniques and samples forms to use as a guide when working with client's assets. These techniques will allow you to reduce your liability and learn industry secrets that most financial firms don’t want you to know

1. Participants will gain access to useful tools and standardized forms that they can use in their everyday practice to determine if they should invest client's funds or not.

2. Participants will learn procedures to help them determine cash flow distributions from investment accounts and how to calculate the appropriate level of risk

3. Participants will understand the most common mistakes to avoid when investing client funds and insider tips that most financial advisors don’t want you to know

time iconApril 24, 2024 10:30 am

Sharon Reich: Explaining the SSD Benefit System

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Sharon Reich
Senior Trusted Advisor, AGED, Inc.

This presentation will explain the Social Security disability benefit system to explore the differences between Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Learn how disability is determined, what the differences and similarities are between each program, when each benefit comes into play, and how the programs relate to other areas of law. Practical information will be provided about optimizing benefits for a client and/or their family, maximizing healthcare benefits, and exploring interactions between benefits and other areas of the client’s financial world.

time iconApril 24, 2024 12:30 pm

Frances Piekarski: How to be a Guardian to Someone with Hoarding Disorder

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Frances Piekarski
President/CEO, Life with Dignity

Learn from this presenter’s decades of experience in working with people afflicted with hoarding disorder. Participants will learn effective and strategic methods for working with individuals with this disorder compassionately and with dignity

time iconApril 24, 2024 01:45 pm

Mary Galvez: Disaster Planning for Guardians

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Mary Galvez
Owner, Guardianship and Care Management Services LLC

Natural disasters, crises, pandemics, violence, and civil unrest! These stories occupy the front page of all of our newsfeeds. As guardians, how can we address our clients’ needs during these times? This session will inform and enable you to create a suitable disaster/emergency plan for the individuals whom you serve.

time iconApril 24, 2024 03:00 pm

Amy Heffner: DDA Enrollment and Assessment

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Amy Heffner

Amy Heffner has worked in the field of developmental services for over seven years. Originally from Pennsylvania, where she served as a Supports Coordinator, Amy relocated to Washington in June 2021. In Washington, she initially worked as a Case Resource Manager with the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) before transitioning to a role in Intake & Eligibility in 2022. Amy is passionate about meeting clients and their families at the 'front door' and enjoys educating them, along with community partners, about DDA and the eligibility process.

time iconApril 23, 2024 01:45 pm

Amanda Wilson: Crisis Medicaid Planning

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Amanda Wilson
Attorney, Solo Practitioner at Olympic Peninsula Law Offices, LLC

This session delves into crisis Medicaid planning, highlighting how annuities and irrevocable trusts can protect assets while ensuring Medicaid eligibility. It addresses the necessity of court approval in a guardian's decision-making process and outlines the financial implications, including billing practices for such planning. The focus is on practical applications, particularly for individuals transitioning to assisted living or facing significant asset changes.

time iconApril 23, 2024 03:00 pm

Jaimie Huff: Navigating New Challenges: Strategies for Guardians Working with Attorneys, DSHS, and Court Visitors Post-UGA Changes

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Jaimie Huff
Director of Community Guardians

This session, led by Jamie Huff, addresses the evolving landscape for guardians in Kitsap County following the updates to the Uniform Guardianship Act (UGA). As legal fees rise and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) delays rulemaking, guardians face increased financial and operational burdens, especially in Medicaid cases. The presentation will explore sustainable strategies for reducing legal costs and advocating for effective appointments, aiming to foster a comprehensive dialogue among guardians, attorneys, and court visitors on navigating these challenges collaboratively.

time iconApril 23, 2024 07:45 am

Peter Wall: Making HEMS Human

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Peter Wall
Director of Fiduciary Services at True Link Financial Advisors

Drafting attorneys and fiduciaries often have differing definitions of "Health, Education, Maintenance and Support" (HEMS) discretionary distribution provisions contained in trusts.  Nationally recognized speaker Peter Wall, Director of True Link Financial Advisors, will provide a comprehensive review of common law, Restatement (Second and Third) of Trusts and the Uniform Trust Code regarding trustee discretion and distribution standards.  The presentation will cover Special Needs Trusts (SNT), Discretionary Trusts, Family and Marital Trusts, Spendthrift Trusts, and trusts for minor beneficiaries.  Trustee prudency and the duties of loyalty and impartiality will be addressed as well as other esoteric discretionary distribution standards such as "comfort", "happiness", and "convenience."  Best practice tips will be provided for drafting attorneys and fiduciaries to ensure beneficiary empowerment and quality of life.

time iconApril 23, 2024 09:15 am

Shannon Butler: NGA Initiatives and Insights for 2024

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Shannon Butler
NGA President

Presentation Description:

Shannon Butler, President of the National Guardianship Association, will discuss her three key initiatives for 2024: enhancing training and education in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI); advancing data collection; and promoting involvement within the NGA and local guardian groups. She will also share her valuable tips and strategies for working with clients to maximize their independence and foster strong, effective working relationships.


time iconApril 23, 2024 10:30 am

Heather Connors: 4 Ways To Use “The Bill of Rights” To Create Better Client Outcomes

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Heather Connors
Executive Director of The Center for Guardianship Excellence

Great Guardians have been celebrating the release of the detailed “Bill of Rights” (BOR) document with its 21 rights and 16 supporting points. But it is a big document and not that easy to follow.

In this presentation, Dr. Heather Connors, Executive Director, The Center for Guardianship Excellence, and a member of the BOR committee, will share clear, powerful ways to explain and use this important tool.

You will learn:

1.     When and how to talk with new clients about their “access to justice” rights in order to build trust and calm fears

2.     Best practices for explaining “core human rights” to family members and providers as a first step to changing disparaging or unproductive behavior

3.     How to use “decision-making rights” to advocate for client wishes

4.     Setting boundaries using the “restrictions” and “guardian authority” sections of the BOR

5.     Where to download an infographic you can print and hand out

time iconApril 23, 2024 12:30 pm

Mindi Blanchard: What I Learned from Being Sued

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Mindi Blanchard
Founder, Bridge Builders and The Guardian Institute

This course is to demonstrate how a GPGC, or any helper, can get served a frivolous lawsuit. This session will walk the attendees through the process of their experience in an effort to ruin the agency’s professional reputation. The speaker will then review the lessons learned and how they adjusted their agency’s processes to make the agency less likely to be sued in the future. The integrity and ethics of the agency, before and after the lawsuit, will be reviewed as well as the growth of the owner and staff in becoming a stronger certified professional guardian agency.

Frequently Asked Questions
You will receive a DocuSign form prior to the final session on Wednesday, April 24. Complete and sign the form, and we will submit the paperwork on your behalf.
We are still awaiting WSBA approval, but WSBA credit can be requested by going to the Surveys tab during the conference and click on "Request WSBA Credit." If you have attended all sessions and completed the form, we will process your information with the WSBA (once approved) and ensure you receive credit for all approved CEU’s
The conference leaderboard, accessible via the Leaderboard tab, shows various ways to earn points during the event. The top five point earners will be eligible for the following prizes:

1. Apple 10.2" iPad (9th Generation)
2. Free Guardian Institute Conference Registration for 2025 ($450.00 Value)
3. Apple Airpods (2nd Generation)
4. $200 Off 2025 Conference
5. $50 Target Gift Card
If you experience technical issues and cannot attend a session, email Luke Pettengill at lcpettengill@gmail.com to discuss possible accommodations.
To share your feedback, go to the Surveys tab and complete the "Conference Feedback Survey.