Determining Jurisdiction Under the California Conservatorship Jurisdiction Act (CCJA)
When someone you care about is no longer able to take care of themselves and has no spouse to assist them, you may need to initiate a legal proceeding to appoint someone known as a conservator. A conservator is a guardian and protector appointed by a judge to protect and manage the financial affairs and/or the person’s daily life due to physical or mental limitations or old age.
Conservatorships originate in the state court systems, which creates some unique problems when a conservator moves from one state to another for any number of reasons. For example, if an adult child is a conservator for their elderly parent, and the child decides to move to a different state, will the conservatorship still be valid? The answer to questions like this can often be confusing because you’re dealing with a different judicial system in every state.
In response to these concerns, the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UAGPPJA) emerged in 2007 as a way to deal with interstate conservatorship transfers. This uniform act is now law in forty states.
Because of existing language in state law, California needed to carve a somewhat more nuanced path instead of just adopting the uniform language. After years of input and debate by stakeholders, the California Conservatorship Jurisdiction Act (CCJA) was passed by the General Assembly and became law on January 1, 2016. This statute incorporates many provisions of the UAGPPJA and acknowledges the authority of conservatorships granted in other states while not giving those conservatorships full faith and credit under the law.
The California Conservatorship Jurisdiction Act added specific provisions of the UAGPPJA, such as placing portions of conservatorship transfers within the appellate process, modifying statutes regarding absentees and missing persons, and providing for inclusion of medical powers in a transfer petition.
The Act also handles approval for actions such as claims resolution, removing a conservator appointed in another state who would not have been named in California, and removal of the personal property of a conservatee formerly under a California conservatorship to another state without an order from a court. The CCJA excludes the affairs of a minor, people involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, and individuals with developmental disabilities.
The purpose of the CCJA is to address three primary issues involving the transfer of a conservatorship: determining where jurisdiction lies in a particular case, moving conservatorships to or from California, and registering a conservatorship formed in a sister state in California. These legal issues largely depend on the role of California in the particular case. Is California a “home state,” a “significant-connection” state, or an “appropriate forum” state? It’s not always easy to tell, and the professional counsel and direction of an experienced Los Angeles probate lawyer to guide you through the process is essential
The “home state” is where the protected person has been physically present for at least six consecutive months before filing for a conservatorship. If California is the “home state,” then jurisdiction lies in California.
If California is not the “home state,” then the question becomes whether California is a “significant-connection” state. A “significant-connection” state is where the conservatee has a significant connection even if he or she does not reside there. Factors include the presence of family members, the location of property, voting record, vehicle registration, and services received.
If California is not the “home state” but is a “significant-connection” state, California can exercise jurisdiction when the “home state” declines to assert jurisdiction because California is more appropriate. Additionally, when no “home state” can be determined, California can claim jurisdiction as a “significant-connection” state.
A state with jurisdiction can decline to exercise that authority if they believe another state is a more appropriate forum. “Appropriate forum” jurisdiction is determined on a case-by-case basis by considering a host of factors. These factors include the preference of the protected person, whether there has been or is likely to be any neglect or abuse of the conservatee, the location of family and friends, and the nature and location of the evidence in the case.
Dealing with a conservatorship of a loved one can be stressful; addressing the legal issues involved in transferring a conservatorship can be downright confusing. If you need help to determine the rights of someone you are legally obligated to protect, call the professionals at Keystone Law Group, P.C. to attain the assistance you deserve. To schedule a consultation please contact KLG at 310.444.9060 or visit www.Keystone-Law.com for further information.