“Granny Snatching” is probably not a term you are familiar with hearing. But, believe it or not, over the years elder law advocates have popularized the concept to explain a problem affecting fights over guardianship of seniors. Specifically, granny snatching refers to a problem where a elder guardian (usually close friend or family member) suddenly loses their rights when the senior moves into a different state than the one where guardianship was established.
This situation can exacerbate family feuding and increased elder abuse risk. That is because the jurisdictional matter opens the door for one relative (who does not have legal guardianship) to physically move the senior elsewhere. The former legal guardian then faces significant challenges being reunited with their loved one because the new state’s failure to recognize their authority.
Currently, this is a risk for all families that move into (or out of) New York. Per existing state law, a guardian needed to bring new guardianship proceedings upon moving into the state. At the same time, New York residents that move elsewhere risked having their guardianship ignored by the new state. This poses very real administrative problems for seniors most in need of help with various day-to-day financial and well-being issues.
Fixing the Problem
Fortunately, most of that will soon change as a new state law addressing the situation will go into effect on April 21st. Last year, Governor Cuomo signed into law changes to Article 83 of the state’s Mental Hygiene Law. This takes the form of the state’s adoption of the Uniform Guardianship Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA). While the acronym is quite a mouthful, it stands as an important step forward to help streamline court proceedings and protect families no matter where their lives may take them.
The exact changes in state procedures are a bit complex. However, the underlying issue is to simplify multi-jurisdictional dispute matters. Notably, under the law, New York will recognize a “home state” jurisdiction from elsewhere so long as the individual lived in that former state for six consecutive months prior to filing the guardianship petition. New York will also work more closely with the home state on different procedures, ultimately simplifying the process for new residents. In addition, by joining onto the UAGPPJA, New York residents who move elsewhere will hopefully face a more effective legal process in the new location.
For help with elder law issues in New York, contact our legal professionals today for tailored guidance.