Vulnerable Adult, APS, & Power of Attorney

25 years of helping others has made Attorney Brian Duce the go to Adult Protective Services Investigations Lawyer. Vulnerable Adults need special care and we want to provide the best options for you and your family.

 Vulnerable Adults, Adult Protective Services, & Power of Attorney

Who is a “vulnerable adult”?

Washington State’s Vulnerable Adult Protection Act protects people who:

  • Are 60 or older who are functionally, mentally, or physically unable to care for themselves OR

  • Have a court-appointed guardian OR

  • Have a developmental disability OR

  • Live in nursing homes, adult family homes, boarding homes, or any other facility OR

  • Get services from home health, hospice, or home care agencies OR

  • Get services from an individual care provider or a personal aide

    *Vulnerable Adult Protection Act RCW 74.34

What is vulnerable adult abuse and neglect?

Abuse here means willful or non-accidental action or inaction that harms a vulnerable adult. The harm can be physical or mental injury, unreasonably being held somewhere against their will, intimidation, and punishment. Other forms of Abuse come in sexual abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse, and exploitation.

Neglect is when a person or agency with a duty to care for a vulnerable adult acts (or fails to act) in a way that results in the vulnerable adult not getting care needed to keep them physically or mentally healthy.

Exploitation is when an abuser illegally/improperly uses a vulnerable adult or the vulnerable adult’s income/resources, including trust funds or bank accounts, for the abuser’s profit/advantage.

Abandonment is when a person or agency with a duty to care for a vulnerable adult acts (or fails to act) in a way that leaves the vulnerable adult unable to get needed food, clothing, shelter, or health care.

Self-neglect means a vulnerable adult, not living in a care facility, cannot provide for themselves the goods and services needed for their physical or mental health. This hurts or threatens the vulnerable adult’s well-being.

Adult Protective Services Investigations for Alleged Perpetrators:

If you are being investigated on a report of potential abuse, abandonment, financial exploit, or neglect, below you will find the information you need to know moving forward.

What rights do You have?

  • You have the right to have a third party (like a friend, attorney, union rep, family member, or guardian) with you during the interview.

  • If English is not your primary language, you have the right to a free interpreter (family members are not allowed by APS)

  • You have the right to not participate in the interview, to stop or reschedule it.

  • You have the right to provide APS with documents or witnesses related to the allegations.

What will APS do?

Adult Protective Services has to investigate every report of abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, or self-neglect. APS may coordinate with other social services and law enforcement. This is to provide for and protect the adult. These institutions must also inform the adult of their right to refuse the services. If APS decides the adult is not competent to accept/refuse services, Adult Protective Services can file in court to have a guardian appointed.

How will You be notified by APS of the outcome of an Investigation?

APS makes a decision based upon evidence gathered. The types of decisions APS makes are: Substantiated, Unsubstantiated, and Inconclusive. Substantiated means more likely than not, the alleged incident occurred. Unsubstantiated means more likely than not, the alleged incident did NOT occur. Inconclusive means APS cannot determine whether or not the alleged incident occurred.

Once a decision has been made, Adult Protective Services will Mail you a letter if the decision is Substantiated with more details and follow up dates. If found Unsubstantiated, or Inconclusive, Adult Protective Services will tell you verbally, however you can request a letter sent.

What does a “Substantiated” finding mean?

If APS decides the allegations of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or financial exploitation are “substantiated,” you can request a hearing if you disagree with the findings. If APS decision is upheld at the end of the hearing process, your name will be placed on a Registry.

Being on the Registry means that you may not be able to work or volunteer anywhere you might have unsupervised contact with vulnerable adults or children. There is currently no way to get your name off the Registry.

Can you Challenge an APS Decision?

Yes. If Adult Protective Services decides the alleged incident is Substantiated and you do not agree, you may request a hearing which the APS letter will tell you how to request a hearing. You only have until 5:00 p.m. on the 30th calendar day to request a hearing from the date the Department’s letter of notice is mailed or personally served upon you, whichever occurs first.