The Massachusetts Senate just passed through a bill adopting the model set of rules for the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA). The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives, and if it is passed then Massachusetts will be the thirty-ninth state in the country to adopt this act. This model set of rules makes it easier for family caregivers to provide care for their loved ones across state lines.
A court will appoint a guardian to a person when someone is incapable of managing personal decisions or property. The guardian then makes decisions about personal property, medical choices, living arrangements, and financial issues. Appointing a guardian in court can be difficult and time consuming; however, they are a great way to prevent elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
If an elderly person is in need of a guardian in one state and the family is located in another, jurisdictional issues can arise. The tangles of figuring out which court gets say over what can take time and money to sort out. That is why many states have enacted or introduced the UAGPPJA in order to simplify the process of determining jurisdiction for guardianship.
What is the UAGPPJA?
The UAGPPJA is an act that addresses the issue of jurisdiction over adult guardianships, conservatorships and other protective proceedings, providing a mechanism for resolving multi-state jurisdictional disputes. The goal is that only one state will have jurisdiction at any one time. The act designates the individual’s home state as primary jurisdiction, followed by a state that the individual has a significant connection, which then gives the court a clear process for determining which state has jurisdiction to appoint a guardianship or conservatorship if there is a conflict.
By enacting this set of rules, many states have saved time and money for guardians and conservators of the elderly, which in turn allows them to make decisions for their loved ones more quickly and with less hassle. The UAGPPJA provides a set of rules that explain how one court can transfer the guardianship procedure to another state as well as how to accept the transfer in a second state. This act helps to facilitate better enforcement of guardianship proceedings as well as protective orders for seniors that come in from other states.
If Massachusetts passes the act in the House of Representatives, it will become the thirty-ninth state to enact the legislation. Already this year Mississippi and New York passed the act, and in addition to Massachusetts the law has been introduced in California, Michigan, Rhode Island, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As of July, the only states in the nation that have not either passed or introduced this legislation are Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. As more states enact this law, it will become even easier to provide guardianship and care for our elderly loved ones nationwide.