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Elder Law and Estate Planning Blog - Lancaster, PA

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Anti-Granny Snatching

Pennsylvania recently passed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA).  Although it doesn't have the shortest name, this law solves a relatively simple problem commonly known as Granny Snatching.  It addresses the issue of jurisdiction over adult guardianship (sometimes called conservatorship) by providing a mechanism for resolving multi-state disputes.  Ideally, the goal of the Adult Guardianship Act is to grant only one state jurisdiction at any one time.

Before this act, there were frequently cases of disputed guardianship.  Take the case of Loyce Juanita Parker (2008).  She was a lifelong resident of Oklahoma, but moved to Texas temporarily to be near her daughter while awaiting an opening for assisted living in Oklahoma.  Her daughter applied for guardianship in Texas, but her son applied in Oklahoma.  The case took much time and expensive litigation before it was finally ruled that the Oklahoma Court had jurisdiction.

Guardianships involve the appointment of someone or some entity to make decisions for an incapacitated person.  This differs slightly from a power of attorney, in that the incapacitated person does not need to give approval prior to the appointment.  A power of attorney grants the authority to act on behalf of the person with that person's approval.

Because the process for granting guardianship occurs in a state court, the United States has over 50 different systems.  Additionally, few states have streamlined procedures for transferring a proceeding to another state or for accepting this type of transfer.  This means that even without a dispute, there could be jurisdiction problems should the person move from one state to another.  Further problems arise because not all states recognize jurisdiction in other states, so being a Guardian in Pennsylvania may not give you access to assets in Nebraska.  By adopting a uniform set of laws, both the Pennsylvania and Nebraska courts could have communicated with one another and all problems would have been avoided.

Through the UAGPPJA, the above problems are eliminated. UAGPPJA establishes a uniform set of rules for determining jurisdiction, simplifying multi-state jurisdiction disputes.  It also establishes a framework that allows state court judges in different states to communicate with each other.  The law goes into effect on September 5, 2012 in Pennsylvania, saving guardians both time and money and allowing them to focus on the care of their loved one.


For more information, check out these resources below:

Adult Guardianship Jurisdiction Fact Sheet from the Alzheimer's Association

Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act page from the Uniform Law Commission

Pennsylvania House Bill No. 1720

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