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New WYO Law Addresses Guardians…and Granny-napping

PHOTO: AARP Wyoming State Director Tim Summers is applauding the signing of a bill to make it easier for adult legal guardians to care for family members across state lines.
PHOTO: AARP Wyoming State Director Tim Summers is applauding the signing of a bill to make it easier for adult legal guardians to care for family members across state lines.
February 20, 2013

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Gov. Matt Mead has signed a bill that might have the longest name of any legislation this year: The Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act.

Although the bill - SF39 - has a complicated name, said Tim Summers, state director of AARP Wyoming, it aims to simplify things for people acting as legal guardians for elder relatives or folks with disabilities, regardless of where they live. Wyoming will now recognize the legal status even if it was granted in another state.

"What does all this mean? Bottom line is that it saves the caregiver and the families money," Summers said.

Each legal guardianship case can cost more than $7,000," Summers said. "Thirty-five states have passed the same law, including all states around Wyoming."

Summers said there's a sinister side to this issue, too, usually involving relatives who feel they haven't been treated fairly in a will or have a dispute about family property. That's when a granny-"napping" or grandpa-"napping" can happen.

"They might invite grandpa over for Thanksgiving in another state, and they keep him there," Summers said. "Without that Uniform Guardianship Act, this is made much easier in Wyoming."

Summers said they've heard of cases where relatives have been detained in Wyoming because legal guardianships in other states weren't recognized here.

The law goes into effect July 1.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY