How to Determine Jurisdiction for An Incapacitated Person?

Typical Scenario: Bridget lives in Maryland. Grandparents of Bridget,
Joe and Josephine live in Pennsylvania during the summer months.
however, during the winter months, Joe and Josephine migrate to Florida
to enjoy the warm weather. Josephine has been diagnosed with early stages
of Alzheimer’s leaving Joe to be the primary care taker. He suddenly passes
away while the couple is living in Florida for the winter months. Bridget decides
to go to Florida to spend time with her grandmother. She realizes that Josephine
is no longer able to care for herself and would like to file for guardianship.
Where does she file and what court has jurisdiction? 

Bridget is now unclear as to where the guardianship proceedings should
take place because she does not know which state has proper jurisdiction.
Bridget’s choices of possible jurisdiction are Pennsylvania
(her grandparents’ primary home), Maryland (her primary home), or
Florida(her grandparents’ vacation home) . To try and solve issue of the
jurisdiction over adult guardianship, many states have adopted the
Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act.

This Act specifically states which court has proper jurisdiction in order
to appoint a guardian for an incapacitated person. Primary jurisdiction is
determined by the “home state” of the individual. This means the state in
which the individual lived for at least the past six months. If this could not
be determined, the next court that would have appropriate jurisdiction is
decided by where the incapacitated person had “significant connection”. 

Significant connection to a state would be considered as having family members,
owning assets in that state, maintaining social relationships, or having a
voting address in a particular state.  Lastly, if the incapacitated person 

did not have a home state or did not have a significant connection,
another court could claim jurisdiction.

As a result, in our situation above, Pennsylvania would have proper jurisdiction.
The reason that Pennsylvania has primary jurisdiction is because
Pennsylvania is considered JoAnn’s home state.

 For more information regarding, adult or child guardianship
please contact David M. Frees, III at [email protected]
or call 888-573-7407

David M. Frees, III
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Attorney, Speaker and Author