Transfer of Guardianships over State Lines/ 2014 Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings and Jurisdiction Act - UAGPPJA

Guardianships and Conservatorships are vital tools that allow family members and loved ones the ability to intervene to help a loved one struggling with mental illness, developmental disability, or other diminished capacity. Guardians are generally appointed in a state where the person needing protection is physically present or “domiciled”. Conservators may also be appointed in a state where the person needing protection owns property.

However, our society is increasingly mobile. People move to the state that provides the best medical care. People are constantly moving between state lines. Individuals may reside in more than one state. Children may move away for college only to exhibit some form of diminished capacity just as they have moved away from their childhood home. Loved ones may travel between different states at the time of a crisis.

The Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires state courts to generally honor court orders issued in another state. However, there are exceptions to the full faith and credit doctrine, including one for Guardianship and Conservatorships.

So what happens when persons who are in need of Guardianship or Conservatorship have connections to multiple jurisdictions or move over state lines?

In 2014, Massachusetts adopted a Uniform Law known as the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings and Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA). This Uniform Act was created by the Uniform Law Commission, a non-profit organization which assists states in creating uniformity of state laws. UAGPPJA is now adopted by a vast majority of the states and provides a framework for ensuring that the appropriate authority is in place in various jurisdictions.

The new act provides for some new definitions of which state court should have initial jurisdiction over a new Guardianship or Conservatorship action. It also creates a framework that allows a party to either (1) Transfer a Guardianship or Conservatorship from one state to another, or to (2) Register a Guardianship or Conservatorship from one state in another state. Because these laws just passed in 2014, there is little Massachusetts case law or Massachusetts legal precedent in this growing area. This makes gaining legal assistance all the move valuable.

The Attorneys at Blake Law are happy to work with Attorneys in other states and also individuals seeking help.