TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred Madden (D – Gloucester, Camden) that would establish uniform procedures to address interstate conflicts regarding adult guardianship issues has cleared the Senate.
“Confusion over the issue of who has jurisdiction in these cases has simply gone on for too long,” said Madden. “The arguments that have resulted from this uncertainty have served to further delay the more important issue of establishing guardianship and protective order. Moreover, it has resulted in costly legal fees the family is forced to pay. This legislation, long over due, seeks to remedy all of that.”
The bill, also known as the “New Jersey Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act,” would establish that a New Jersey court would have jurisdiction to appoint a guardian or issue a protective order for a person if: New Jersey is that person’s “home state”; on the date the petition is filed New Jersey is a state with a “significant connection”; or if the home state and all significant connection states have declined jurisdiction.
The legislation also sets forth procedures regarding the sharing of the information between courts concerning guardianship and protective proceedings. This information includes: testimony; evidence; evaluations and assessments; transcripts; and medical, financial, criminal or other relevant information.
The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging has found that these kinds of uniform procedures regarding guardianship can have a profound impact on reducing elder abuse. Elder abuse can include physical and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, psychological or emotional abuse, neglect by others, abandonment, and sometimes self-neglect.
Currently, there is no state law governing the jurisdiction, transfer and enforcement of adult guardianships and protective proceedings. The bill, S1755, is modeled after the “Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act,” which was approved in 2007 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and which has been adopted in 30 states and the District of Columbia and has been introduced in seven others. The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Elder Law Section have all voted to endorse this legislation.
The bill now heads to the Assembly.