Caregiving Across State Lines


Meet Lynn Achter, a Wyoming resident, who was granted guardianship of her brother in Oregon after he suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident.   From a thousand miles away, she managed his money, made medical decisions, and coordinated the resources and services he needed.

The distance made Lynn's caregiving responsibilities even more difficult, and she decided to move her brother to Wyoming.  That's when Lynn discovered that Wyoming did not have a uniform guardianship law, and she would have to repeat the legal process of becoming his guardian.

Not only did Lynn have to relive the painful process, but she had to pay another $2,000 in legal fees.  This is in addition to the $3,000 she spent on legal fees in Oregon, and not including travel and other expenses.

"Having a family member be in need of guardianship is heartbreaking.  It shouldn't be easy because you are taking over someone's life.  It's hard to do, and we don't need to make it harder." -Lynn Achter

Caring for loved ones can be challenging even without long, interstate legal battles.  This is why AARP is fighting to remove barriers that prevent guardians from providing for their loved ones, regardless of where they live.

AARP has endorsed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act - that's UAGPPJA. The keyword in the bill is Jurisdiction, as the law does not change guardianship laws within states but sets rules for state courts to communicate with each other when a jurisdictional issue arises.  UAGPPJA solves three common problems involving interstate guardianships:

  1. Multiple Jurisdictions: Adopting the UAGPPJA would create a clear process for determining which state has jurisdiction to appoint a guardian or conservator if there is a conflict.  Example: A mom who is a snowbird and spends her summers and winters in different states. Her health is declining rapidly and her daughter or son needs to file for guardianship. UAGPPJA sets clear rules to allow both states courts to communicate in order to establish which one can issue the guardianship.
  2. Transfer: The Uniform Act outlines a procedure for transferring a guardianship or conservatorship to another state and for accepting a transfer, helping to eliminate the expense and wait.  Example: A wife is her husband's guardian and wants to retire to another state. UAGPPJA shortens the procedure for her to transfer her case to the other state.
  3. Out-of-State Recognition and Enforcement: The UAGPPJA helps to facilitate enforcement of guardianship and protective orders in other states by authorizing a guardian or conservator to register the orders in other states.  Example: A husband who has guardianship over his wife and needs the authority to sell property the wife owns in another state.

As a volunteer with AARP Wyoming, Lynn fought to make UAGPPJA law in Wyoming, courageously sharing her personal experiences in testimony.  Thanks to her advocacy - and the work of many other volunteers - UAGPPJA passed earlier this year, and the law took effect on July 1.

UAGPPJA has passed in 38 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

UAGPPJA Enacted Map

States currently considering UAGPPJA include:

  • Early this month, Michigan introduced Senate Bills 465 and 466, which would adopt UAGPPJA.
  • A bill is also pending in the Virgin Islands, and if passed would take effect next year.

Follow me on Twitter @RoamTheDomes for more news on guardianship across the country.  And, to stay up to date on our guardianship campaign in the states, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.


*Updated 8/4/14
Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
December 11, 2018 10:07 AM
In an election year filled with partisanship and political fights, it’s no surprise that many Americans feel that their voices aren’t being heard or that the issues that affect their lives aren’t being addressed. But, many outstanding elected officials work hard every day to make a positive difference for their constituents.  That’s why AARP recognizes state legislators, governors, and other elected officials – from both sides of the aisle – who have stepped up and worked together to write, support, and advance common-sense policies that help older Americans remain in their homes and communities and retire with confidence. AARP is proud to announce our fifth annual bipartisan class of Capitol Caregivers, who fought this year to increase support for family caregivers and their loved ones, along with our fourth annual bipartisan class of Super Savers, who championed policies that enhance retirement security.
December 05, 2018 01:06 PM
Caroline is a mother of two children and a preschool teacher who unexpectedly became a family caregiver for her father after he suffered a major stroke. Her father, Tom, now deceased, lost the use of his right side and his ability to speak. Multiple surgeries and rehabilitation treatments later, he was able to live at home with the help of nurses. But it was up to Caroline to provide daily care, such as overseeing appointments and handling certain nursing responsibilities, like managing his medications. “I became the person my father could rely on more than anyone in the world,” Caroline said. “I became his safe place and his best friend.” In communities across the country, family caregivers like Caroline are caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones, helping them to remain at home – where they want to be. Their tasks are done out of love and commitment, but are not easy. That’s why AARP is fighting for family caregivers and their loved ones in every state. In 2018, AARP advanced new policies to provide more help at home, flexibility at work, training, relief and more, which will benefit over 30 million family caregivers. Here are a couple highlights:
November 27, 2018 08:55 AM
A few months ago, I wrote a blog about the vital role that transportation options play in what we at AARP call “livable communities” – great places to live for people of all ages. Being able to get around is critical to earn a living, raise a family, contribute and stay connected to your community and enjoy life. And, having alternatives to getting behind the wheel of your own car is particularly important for older adults who want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.