Imagine you’re a caregiver for your mom, who lives in Oregon. You, however, live in North Carolina. As your mother’s health declines, you become her legal guardian in Oregon, making decisions about her property, medical care and living arrangements. The process of becoming your mom’s legal guardian was not only time consuming but costly. Now your mother wants to move to North Carolina to be closer to you. North Carolina won’t recognize a guardianship order from Oregon, so you will now have to repeat the extensive and often costly process again in North Carolina.
While hypothetical, this scenario can be very real for many family caregivers. The fact is: Every caregiving situation is different, and people move and care for their loved ones from different states every day. I know firsthand from my time caring for my Mom and Pop that caregiving across state lines is challenging enough and should be consistent when it comes to the law.
Fortunately, 42 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have already passed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdictions Act (UAGPPJA), a law to support family caregivers as they care for their parents, spouses and other loved ones across state lines.
- Outlines a set of rules for transferring guardianship from one state to another
- Allows states to recognize and register guardianship orders from other states
- Creates a clear process for determining jurisdiction by designating the “home state”
- Protects seniors by giving the court information and authority to act on abuse and exploitation
Good news for Rhode Island and New Hampshire
Family caregivers in Rhode Island and New Hampshire now have one less thing to worry about — UAGPPJA was recently signed into law in both states. While we celebrate these wins for family caregivers, we still have work to do. Only a handful of states — Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin — have yet to pass UAGPPJA.
And the fight isn’t over in North Carolina this year. UAJPPJA has passed the North Carolina House and is being considered by the Senate.
AARP will continue to fight until UAGPPJA becomes law in every state to ensure that older people and their family caregivers — in particular those who provide care across state lines — have the support and protection they deserve.
If you are a family caregiver, you’re not alone.
- To stay up to date or to get involved with our caregiving advocacy in the states, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.
- To find the tools and support you need, as well as ways to connect with other caregivers, visit the AARP Caregiving Resource Center.
Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.
Follow Elaine on Twitter: @RoamTheDomes