Moving An Out of State Guardianship To Massachusetts

Here is a scenario that happens everyday: Sue Jones lives with her daughter Mary Jones in Georgia. Mary has intellectual disabilities and Sue was appointed as her guardian by a court in Virginia. Sue and Mary move to Massachusetts. Sue visits with an attorney to make sure everything is in order and asks “does my guardianship remain in effect in Massachusetts?”  And of course the lawyer answers “it depends.”

A guardianship gives the guardian the authority to make health care and living situation for the ward or “incapacitated person” as they are now called in Massachusetts.  This means that usually the people who will be asking about the guardianship and wanting to see the papers are hospitals, housing entities, doctor’s offices and the like. They will usually accept the guardianship and move on with things.

But sometimes a Massachusetts Court needs to get involved. This might happen because a guardian needs to be replaced, the authority of the guardian needs to be expanded or some medical provider has refused to honor the out of state guardianship.  If the Court does get involved, they will require that the guardian start from scratch and obtain a Massachusetts guardianship, complete with medical certificates, petitions, notice to interested parties and a short hearing to have the guardianship formalized. (Some courts will require that you get a new guardianship even if you just move from county to county in Massachusetts. This seems completely nonsensical to me and is thankfully not an issue that my clients have run into.)

Getting a guardianship in Massachusetts can take some time, so if you have recently moved here you may want to think about obtaining guardianship in Massachusetts before you run into an obstacle requiring you to do so.

Happy Health Care Decisions Day!

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When Should I Write My Will? A Lesson from House, M.D.

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As Your Family Changes, So Should Your Estate Plan

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