ALBANY, N.Y., Oct. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law an AARP-backed bill that will cut red tape and save money for guardians by simplifying the process for exercising their rights when their loved ones live in another state.
The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (S2534/A857) will eliminate costly and time-consuming red tape for guardians in exercising health care, financial and other legal responsibilities for elderly parents or other loved ones who live out of state.
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 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. New York becomes the most populous state with the law in place, joining 36 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
"Forcing caregivers to spend time in lengthy and expensive court proceedings that drain family resources undermines their ability to provide care for their loves ones," said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York. "Governor Cuomo has taken an important step toward cutting red tape for New Yorkers who care for loved ones in more than two thirds of other states, which already have this law on the books. AARP hopes the momentum will push the final states to join and create uniformity and reciprocity across the nation."
The law, sponsored in the New York State Legislature by Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau) and Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn):
- 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. The court in the individual's "home state" would hear the 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 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 will 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.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Espanol, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.
SOURCE AARP New York State