The New Jersey legislature is considering a bill that would make the state a part of a group of states that allow state courts to better determine adult guardianship issues. The law is partially aimed at preventing cases of “granny snatching,” where a relative of an elderly person moves that person to a new state in order to obtain guardianship rights.
Currently, New Jersey courts may appoint a guardian over an elderly person only to have the guardianship appointment effectively nullified when another state court appoints another guardian after the elderly person has relocated to that state. The new law establishes which state court has the right to make such an appointment, declaring that the state court where the elderly person lived for at least the previous 6 months has the right to appoint a guardian. Once such a state court makes an appointment, that appointment will be followed by any other state the elderly person moves to.
The law will prevent fights over an elderly family member where one member may be appointed guardian in one state, only to see another family member move the elderly person in an attempt to be appointed guardian in that new state. However, it will not prevent family conflicts over the elderly person, but merely establish the appropriate court that has the power to appoint an adult guardian.
Currently, 31 states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar legislation, while 7 others are considering similar bills.