Is guardianship recognized across state lines?

Noodles asked...

I have guardianship over my uncle in New York. Is it recognized in all states, since I live in another state? He wants to be with me and I have guardianship over both his person and property. He is totally alone where he is in an assisted-living facility. There are no other living relatives.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Check the documents you have in hand authorizing you to act on your uncle's behalf. If you have been empowered as his legal guardian or conservator, then a court has agreed that it is in his best interests to have you serve.

If your uncle remains in the New York facility, the roadblocks you may face may not be legal ones, but practical ones. While you may be your uncle's only surviving relative, are you familiar enough with his needs and wants to make decisions on his behalf? Are you prepared to travel to New York from your present locale to oversee his medical care or investigate his financial matters if need be? Do you have easy and open communication with the staff attending your uncle?

If a bit of this soul-searching should reveal that you may not be best-suited to act for your uncle, consider enlisting another person -- perhaps a family friend or neighbor who has been close to your uncle -- to act in your stead.

If you and your uncle decide that a better approach is to move him to your state, you will need to petition the local Surrogate's Court in New York for permission to do so.