A guardian is often an individual appointed by a court to make key decisions regarding another person’s physical welfare and/or finances. In the context of guardianships, the person who is subject to the decision-making authority of a guardian is often referred to as an incapacitated person, and it is not uncommon that the guardian bears additional responsibilities in addition to promoting the welfare of the incapacitated person.

Depending on the circumstances of the guardian’s work or family situation, and depending on where the incapacitated person is physically located, it may be appropriate to consider what tools are available to a guardian who crosses state lines on a permanent basis after receiving a guardianship appointment in Pennsylvania.

The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (the “Act”),[1] which has been adopted in Pennsylvania, provides for the transfer of guardianship to and from the state in which the guardianship was originally provided. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that a guardian appointed in Pennsylvania has encountered a circumstance that requires the guardian to move to another state with the incapacitated person.

When a guardian appointed in Pennsylvania wishes to transfer their guardianship to another state, a petition must be filed with the local Orphans’ Court, seeking a transfer of the guardianship. After providing notice to the required parties, and a hearing, the Orphans’ Court in Pennsylvania will enter a provisional order directing the guardian to seek guardianship in the destination state. Under the Act, the Orphans’ Court must find that the: (1) incapacitated person is physically present in or is reasonably expected to move permanently to the other state; (2) an objection to the transfer has not been made; and (3) plans for care and services for the incapacitated person in the other state are reasonable and sufficient. After the court in the destination state confirms the guardianship transfer, the Orphans’ Court in Pennsylvania will issue a final order confirming the transfer to the destination state.

The total length of the guardianship transfer process will likely be dependent on various factors, but a guardian considering a transfer should consult with legal counsel to ensure as smooth of a transition as possible, especially where the facts of each circumstance could dictate a different result.