Massachusetts lightened the load for family caregivers today with the pen stroke of Gov. Deval Patrick, who signed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA) into law.
With the new law, officially known as Chapter 225 of the Acts of 2014, Massachusetts becomes the 39 th state plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to adopt rules making it easier for family caregivers whose loved ones live outside the state, or who live in another state themselves and provide care for a loved one in Massachusetts.
AARP is thrilled that the Uniform Adult Guardianship Protective Proceedings and Jurisdiction Act is now law in Massachusetts, because it will save guardians and conservators both time and money, and will allow them to act quickly regarding important decisions that need to be made for their loved ones." — Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts state director
“AARP applauds Gov. Patrick for signing this legislation into law today,” said AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa. “The law provides uniformity, which will help reduce jurisdictional issues with other states, something that was often faced by family caregivers with legal guardianship.”
AARP Massachusetts thanks its members across the state for their efforts in contacting their legislators to urge passage of UAGPPJA.
AARP Massachusetts also thanks the leadership and members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, particularly Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop), President of the Senate Therese Murray (D-Plymouth), bill sponsor Rep. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham), Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmon), and Reps. Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth), James O’Day (D-West Boylston), and Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose).
The UAGPPJA designates that an individual’s “home state” has primary jurisdiction, followed jurisdictionally by the state in which the individual has a “significant connection.” In so doing, the law makes clear which state has jurisdiction to appoint a guardian or conservator if there is a conflict.
Courts may appoint guardians or conservators to make decisions on behalf of individuals who have become incapable of managing their personal property or making decisions about medical care, living arrangements, financial issues, and the like. Prior to the UAGPPJA becoming law, family caregivers often had to undergo time and expense in duplicating guardianship orders in the state where their loved one resided. The new law will also help prevent elder abuse and financial exploitation by allowing caregivers to maintain their guardianship roles and care for loved ones residing in Massachusetts or another state.
Additionally, if more than one state is involved in a guardianship case, prior to this law, families were occasionally caught in jurisdictional tangles; the law now provides jurisdictional rules to which all states that recognize uniform guardianship 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 thrilled that the Uniform Adult Guardianship Protective Proceedings and Jurisdiction Act is now law in Massachusetts,” Festa said, “because it will save guardians and conservators both time and money, and will allow them to act quickly regarding important decisions that need to be made for their loved ones."
The law takes effect 90 days from today.