October 24, 2013: State Bar: Guardianship Act Protects Families, Reduces Interstate Legal Disputes, Combats Abuses

New York State Bar Association President David M. Schraver today said the association is pleased that Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature have enacted New York’s new Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA).

With an increasingly mobile society, multi-state guardianship disputes are becoming more and more common. That makes it imperative that states amend their guardianship laws to include more opportunity for interstate cooperation, Schraver said.

The act creates a clear, uniform process for establishing a legal relationship between incapacitated adults and their caregivers, thus reducing the potential for litigation, reducing disputes among states and reducing the possibility of abuses.
“Under the U.S. Constitution, the guardianship decisions of one state are not necessarily enforceable in another state. This often results in significant legal obstacles when an incapacitated person moves or is transported from one state to another,” said Schraver of Rochester (Nixon Peabody). “Passage of this act will reduce the stresses placed on families, as well as eliminate many of the legal and financial complications that such situations often create.”

The initial draft of the legislation was proposed by the Elder Law Section of the State Bar Association and endorsed by the association’s Executive Committee. 

Elder Law Section Chair Frances M. Pantaleo of Purchase (Walsh Amicucci & Pantaleo) said her section worked with the Alzheimer's Association to modify an interstate law to meet the needs of New York.

“We are proud of the efforts of our Legislation Committee. We believe that this legislation will simplify and reduce the cost of guardianship proceedings involving frail and elderly New Yorkers,” she said.

A key provision of the New York measure recognizes the jurisdiction of the home state of an incapacitated individual for guardianship purposes, regardless of the person’s physical location. In most cases, the act would require states to cede jurisdiction in guardianship cases to the individual’s home state and cooperate with the home state with regard to the collection of evidence. It also would provide procedures for the transfer of guardianship between states and for the registration of guardianship orders from one state to another.

With the addition of New York, 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have now enacted some form of UAGPPJA. 

The New York State Bar Association, with 76,000 members, is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.

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Contact: Mark Mahoney 
Associate Director, Media Services and Public Affairs
Mmahoney@nysba.org
(518) 487-5532