Bill Cutting Red-Tape in Caring for Relatives Wins Final Legislative Passage

Measure Reduces Cost, Bureaucracy for Guardians to Care for Out-of-State Relatives

Apr 30, 2013, 16:22 ET from AARP New York State

ALBANY, N.Y., April 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New Yorkers would be able to avoid costly and time-consuming red tape in exercising health care, financial and other legal responsibilities for their out-of-state, elderly parents under a bill that received final legislative passage today.

New York would become the 37th state (plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia) to adopt what AARP is working to make a uniform standard across the nation allowing guardians to file a simple registration form in other states where their elderly parents may live.

Under current law, guardians who live in New York must often hire lawyers to help them navigate other states' court systems to receive approval to exercise their responsibilities - after they've already obtained such legal orders in New York.

The Senate gave final legislative passage today to the common-sense bill sponsored by Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon and Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Helene Weinstein (S2534/A857). The bill passed the Assembly unanimously (137-0) on April 22.

Senator Hannon and Assemblywoman Weinstein joined AARP New York  at a press conference today in the Legislative Office Building to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act.

The Act:

  • Makes it easier to enforce guardianship and protective orders by authorizing guardians or conservators to register their New York orders in other states.
  • Establishes a procedure for transferring a guardianship or conservatorship to another state and for accepting a transfer, helping to eliminate the expense and wait of initiating a separate new proceeding.
  • Creates a clear process for determining which state has jurisdiction to appoint a guardian or conservator if there is a conflict. That court in the individual's "home state" would be the one to hear a case followed by a state in which the individual has a "significant connection."
  • Reduces elder abuse by barring someone who wrongfully seeks control and assets of an elder (or anyone else) from taking a person across state lines and immediately being named guardian. A court could refuse to hear the case because of "unjustifiable conduct' and penalize perpetrators.

The New York law is part of AARP's national fight to focus on care, not courts, by removing the barriers that prevent caregivers from providing for their loved ones, regardless of where the loved ones live.

"I am pleased New York is poised to join other states in adopting uniform rules to protect incapacitated adults, who are some of our most vulnerable citizens," said Senator Hannon.  "This legislation will also help guardians and caregivers by reducing the existing burdens and costs involved in moving or caring for loved ones across state lines."

"Caregivers of adults in need of guardianship should not be spending precious time and money battling with court systems of multiple states," said Assembly Member Weinstein. "By adopting uniform interstate adult guardianship procedures, this bill will allow caregivers the ability to focus on the most important task - taking care of their loved ones."

"Forcing caregivers to spend time caught up in lengthy and expensive court proceedings, draining family resources, undermines their ability to provide care for their loves ones," said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York.  "AARP commends Senator Hannon and Assembly Member Weinstein for their leadership on this issue, which impacts the lives of so many New Yorkers and their loved ones."

Catherine James and Elaine Sproat, Co-Chairs of the Coalition of New York State Alzheimer's Association Chapters, said: "Enactment of the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act is critical to individuals and families coping with Alzheimer's disease. Individuals with Alzheimer's disease often require assistance from a court-appointed guardian and this legislation establishes a uniform set of rules for determining jurisdiction when such a guardian is needed.  We thank Senator Hannon and Assembly Member Weinstein for championing this legislation, which will help to ease the emotional and financial burden for caregivers by removing the jurisdictional barriers in guardianship proceedings."

The measure, supported by judges, lawyers and families, carries no cost to taxpayers and makes no changes in the state's substantive guardianship law and procedures. But it would save New Yorkers time and money, and in the process help safeguard the health of their loved ones.

In today's mobile society, families often have connections in many states. In some families, a loved one may need the help of a guardian if no advance planning options are in place. But because guardianship is handled in state courts and each state has its own laws and procedures, families can get caught in jurisdictional tangles that can cost a lot of money, delay good care, aggravate family disputes, and open the door for elder abuse.

The solution is a simple set of jurisdictional rules to which all states can agree. 

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SOURCE AARP New York State