Governor signs uniform adult guardianship law

Issue September 2014 By Lee Ann Constantine

On Aug. 7, 2014, amidst a flurry of other legislative enactments, Gov. Deval L. Patrick signed into law Massachusetts Bar Association-championed legislation relative to the uniform adult guardianship and protective proceedings act. Chapter 225 of the Acts of 2014 will bring clarity and predictability to guardianship cases in which more than one state is involved. The bill's scope is narrowly focused and will not substantively change guardianship/conservatorship laws in Massachusetts. Instead, it will address interstate jurisdictional conflicts. Passage of this uniform acts brings Massachusetts law into conformity with 38 other states, in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

"Those familiar with the recently passed Guardianship Jurisdiction Act realize that in cases where more than one state is involved the act brings both clarity and predictability, allowing attorneys to anticipate a certain result," said MBA Probate Law Section Council member Frederick L. Nagle Jr. "It clarifies the weight to be given to the specific facts of each case in determining the proper jurisdiction in which to begin an action where more than one state is involved."

Nagle added: "The bill also allows for full faith and credit to be given by one state to the decree issued by the state [that] took initial jurisdiction by providing for recognition of the authority of a fiduciary initially appointed in another jurisdiction. It also creates a uniform method for transferring, where necessary, jurisdiction from the court from which the initial appointment issued to the appropriate court in another jurisdiction. The benefit to fiduciaries for, and families of, incapacitated persons are obvious."

The MBA worked cooperatively with AARP of Massachusetts, The Arc of Massachusetts, Alzheimer's Association: MA/NH Chapter, Massachusetts Guardianship Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Massachusetts Chapter and the Uniform Law Commission to obtain the successful passage of this vitally important law.

"This passage of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Persons Jurisdiction Act is a great help to Massachusetts attorneys and protected persons," said MBA Probate Law Section Council member Raymond H. Young.     

Lauren Anderson contributed to this article.