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On October 23, 2013 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (“UAGPPJA”) in to law. This long-awaited law, which will go into effect April 21, 2014, provides a much-needed resolution to the expensive and time-consuming shortfalls of New York State’s adult guardianship laws by establishing a set of rules for determining jurisdiction between multiple states in adult guardianship cases.
While there are currently more than 50 guardianship systems throughout the United States, under the U.S. Constitution the guardianship orders of one state are not entitled to the grant of full faith and credit by another state. This creates a jurisdictional nightmare when a guardian wants to relocate his or her ward to another state.
The enactment of this new law creates Article 83 of the Mental Hygiene Law and amends Section 81.18 of the Mental Hygiene Law and Section 1758 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA). It applies to Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law (Article 81) and Article 17A of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. One disadvantage of the UAGPPJA is that it does not apply to Article 17 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act because it only relates to adult protective proceedings and therefore excludes minors.
Although the UAGPPJA does not modify any substantive rules regarding adult guardianships in New York, it does, however, provide a mechanism for resolving jurisdictional issues often faced in multi-state adult guardianship matters, including taking testimony in another jurisdiction, and communication and cooperation between New York courts and the courts of another state.
The UAGPPJA seeks to accomplish the following goals:
- Identify one state to adjudicate first time guardianship petitions;
- Establish a system of transferring existing guardianship matters from one state to another; and
- Provide a system of recognizing and enforcing guardianship orders of one state in another.
The practical impact of this law will be enormous to incapacitated persons and their guardians. Now guardians from another state can continue to be authorized to act on behalf of their wards in New York State without having to go through an exhausting, time-consuming, and expensive second guardianship proceeding. This law will help to reduce elder abuse, enable caregivers to make decisions about relocating their loved ones to another state to access quality healthcare, and conserve the resources of incapacitated persons and the state.