Massachusetts lawmakers pass Adult Guardianship Act



Massachusetts crossed a major hurdle yesterday when the House of Representatives passed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA).  If the bill is signed into law, Massachusetts would join 38 other states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico in adopting a model set of rules to make it easier for family caregivers to provide care across state lines.

“Thanks to the leadership of Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, bill sponsor Representative Anne Gobi, and Representatives James O’Day, Christopher Markey, and Paul Brodeur, the House has passed UAGPPJA, which will provide uniformity and reduce jurisdictional conflicts with other states,” said Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts state director.

The UAGPPJA designates that the individual’s “home state” has primary jurisdiction, followed by a state in which the individual has a “significant connection,”  thereby creating a clear process for determining which state has jurisdiction to appoint a guardian or conservator if there is a conflict.

When individuals are incapable of managing their personal decisions or property, a court may appoint a guardian to make decisions on their behalf.  These decisions can be related to personal property, medical care, living arrangements and financial issues.  As a judicial proceeding, guardianship orders can be expensive, time-consuming and complex, but also can help prevent elder abuse and financial exploitation.

If more than one state is involved in a guardianship case, families can be caught in jurisdictional tangles.  The solution is a simple set of jurisdictional rules to which all states can agree.

The Uniform Act outlines a procedure for transferring a guardianship or conservatorship to another state and for accepting a transfer, helping to eliminate the expense and wait.  UAGPPJA helps to facilitate enforcement of guardianship and protective orders from other states by authorizing registration in Massachusetts.

“AARP is delighted to see that the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed the UAGPPJA bill in Massachusetts.  If this becomes law, it will provide uniformity and reduce jurisdictional conflicts with other states.  The Uniform Act will help save time and money for guardians and conservators, allowing them to make important decisions for their loved ones as quickly as possible,” said Festa.

The bill has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and now heads to Governor Patrick’s desk for signature.