Legislators in New Jersey are considering a new law that would help prevent cases of “granny snatching.” The terms of the proposed legislation, known as the New Jersey Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, protects guardianships appointed in New Jersey courts against interference when the ward—the person being cared for by the guardians—travels to a different state where someone else challenges the guardianship.
The proposed law is aimed at stopping situations where a New Jersey court appoints a guardian, only to have that guardian’s authority superseded by another state court’s decisions. For example, a New Jersey court may appoint an elderly man’s son as his guardian. If the elderly man then goes to Arizona to visit relatives, an adult grandson may then ask an Arizona court to name a guardian. The Arizona court may then determine that the grandson is the better guardian and may appoint that grandson as the Arizona guardian. Since the elderly person is no longer in New Jersey, the guardian appointed by the New Jersey court would have no authority over the Arizona guardian while the elderly person is in Arizona.
The proposed legislation would adopt a uniform set of laws that 31 other states use in order to enable each state to allow state courts to recognize the validity of guardianship powers appointed by other state courts. Though the law will not end conflicts between family members fighting over who can serve as guardian, it will allow judges to determine which state courts have the right to appoint guardianships when the elderly person travels between states.