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May 22, 2012

New Jersey Considers Law to Prevent 'Granny Snatching' (USA)

Law would alleviate jurisdictional issues when families feud over guardianship.
By Beth Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight

The New Jersey Legislature is considering a new law to prevent an elder abuse known as “granny snatching” by joining a multi-state network that protects adults who need the assistance of a guardian when families feud.
“There has been one case after another where we have venue challenges and jurisdictional challenges that have caused a lot of problems,” said Sen. Fred H. Madden (D-Gloucester), co-sponsor of the legislation.
Typically, a NJ court appoints a daughter as guardian for an elderly mother incapacitated by Alzheimer’s. The mother then visits another daughter in Florida, who goes to court seeking to overturn the New Jersey guardianship order and be named the new legal guardian.
The bill now under consideration in Trenton -- the New Jersey Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act -- would allow New Jersey’s guardianship orders to be recognized by other states with the law.
The bills, S1755 and A2628, establish uniform procedures for addressing interstate conflicts regarding adult guardianship issues, and brings New Jersey into an national guardianship reciprocity network that includes more than 30 states.
The bill has bipartisan support and was approved last week by the Senate’s health committee. Co-sponsors are Madden and Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego (R-Burlington).
“There have been cases where another family member moved to establish guardianship in another state, and they prevailed,” Madden said. “We had no strength to bring the individual back to New Jersey, which was where the original guardianship had taken place.”
Such feuds can lead to costly court that deplete the elderly ward’s resources and tie of up courts, at taxpayer’s expense.
“I am hoping [the bill] will save money, and it will help family members in different states by making laws uniform and consistent,” Addiego said. “Guardianship cases stretching beyond state boundaries raise questions about jurisdiction, laws and rights in today’s mobile society.”
Elder law attorney Sharon Rivenson Mark, president of the Guardianship Association of New Jersey, said the legislation would not put an end to dispute among family members. What the legislation will do, however, is address the issue of how to determine which state has jurisdiction in a guardianship case.

Abridged
 SOURCE:    The East Windsor Patch
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