By Vanessa Macias Stillman

If you’ve been appointed as a guardian or conservator for an incapacitated adult, you’ve petitioned the court and obtained an order in the incapacitated person’s home state. Should you and the incapacitated person move to another state, however, that guardianship order may not be recognized. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve been appointed as a guardian for an incapacitated adult in Virginia, but you wish to move yourself and the incapacitated person to New York. Until recently, if you were appointed in Virginia but moved elsewhere, you would be required to start the guardianship process from scratch in your new home state. Luckily, Virginia and New York have joined a majority of states that have adopted the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (the “UAGPPJA”). The UAGPPJA is intended to streamline and facilitate the transfer of an already existing guardianship or conservatorship order to another state. In those states that have adopted the UAGPPJA, a guardian would still need to go to court to petition for transfer but would not be required to repeat the entire guardianship process in the new home state.

In our example above, the Virginia guardian seeking to relocate to New York would first petition the appropriate circuit court in Virginia to transfer the guardianship to New York. The Virginia court would then issue an order provisionally granting a petition to transfer the guardianship and would direct the guardian to petition for acceptance of the transfer in New York. Once the provisional order has been issued, the guardian will then file a petition in New York to accept the transfer of guardianship from Virginia. The New York court would then issue a provisional order accepting the Virginia transfer and a final order will be entered transferring the guardianship to New York upon the New York court’s receipt of a final order from Virginia stating that the Virginia guardianship has been terminated and transferred.

Petitioning to become a guardian or conservator for an incapacitated adult can be a taxing and difficult experience for those involved. The goal of the UAGPPJA is to avoid having to go through the process for a second time. As you can see, however, transfer of a guardianship under the UAGPPJA involves overlapping proceedings in two jurisdictions. In addition, because the UAGPPJA is relatively new in the majority of states, petitions under the Act are relatively new territory for many jurisdictions. If you need help transferring a guardianship to or from Virginia, be sure to discuss the process with an attorney who has experience filing petitions under the UAGPPJA.