Houston Estate Planning Law Blog

GRANNY SNATCHING: GUARDIANSHIP PROBLEMS

Some Texas residents may have heard of the elderly abuse called “granny snatching.” This has been in the news and states are beginning to consider new laws to prevent this abuse from occurring. The practice of granny snatching involves feuding families that are trying to seek control of an elderly relative. One relative may have guardianship over the relative; however, when the elderly person visits another state, another family member may try to snatch guardianship away. Estate administration means many things, but sometimes it can involve caring for elderly relatives during the end of their lives.

Recently, there have been several cases of granny snatching in the United States, and unfortunately, some people who have sought to strip guardianship rights away from others have been successful. These battles can deplete an elderly person’s estate and lead to long and costly court battles. A new bill proposal would help states network with each other to recognize guardianship laws in other states, potentially preventing this practice.

The proposed law, which is currently being considered in New Jersey, would provide jurisdiction over the elderly person in the event a disagreement occurs between relatives about the state with the proper authority. This bill would define the person’s home state as the place where the individual has been living for the past six months, consecutively. Passing this bill would allow states into a network of states with the same law that could protect elders from feuding family members.

Currently, this bill is being considered in the state of New Jersey but since 2007, the District of Columbia and 31 other states have passed this law. If a person under guardianship moves states and both states have recognized this law, it could prevent a full out court proceeding concerning guardianship. Estate administration sometimes involves complexities concerning members of the family in addition to members that have passed. With this law, trusted members of a person’s family can stay appointed as a rightful guardian and reduce costly court battles for families in conflict.

Source: NJ Spotlight, “New Jersey Considers Law to Prevent Granny Snatching,” Beth Fitzgerald, May 21, 2012

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