By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. a New Jersey Guardianship Attorney
New legislation would establish uniform rules and procedures for courts to use when dealing with adult guardianship disputes involving parties from other states or counties.
New legislation has been introduced that would rewrite New Jersey law to establish uniform rules and procedures for courts to use when dealing with adult guardianship disputes involving parties from other states or counties.
The changes were recommended last year by the New Jersey Law Revision Commission and are modeled after rules and procedures approved by 19 states and the District of Columbia.
An estimated 400,000 people nationwide have court-appointed guardians. Often state jurisdiction issues arise in situations involving snowbirds, long-distance care giving arrangements, interstate health markets, and so-called “granny snatchings” involving the kidnapping of elderly dependents.
New Jersey would have jurisdiction in appointing a guardian or issue a protective order in cases in which New Jersey is the resident’s home for at least six months immediately before a court filing. It also would extend jurisdiction to New Jersey for cases in which the resident in question has a “significant connection” because he or she has family living here, or has records such as tax filings, property documents, vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses showing the person has spent a considerable amount of time.
The law also establishes procedures for communications among courts as well as how disputes should be handled in emergency situations or in cases involving parties in multiple states.
The Alzheimer’s Association and AARP support the measure.
“When multiple states have their own (judicial) systems, it becomes unclear which state court has the jurisdiction to hear and decide legal issues relating to guardianship. That can put a huge burden on the families who get caught up in the maze,” said Linda Coppinger, an executive director of an Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.
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