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Court Rules New Jersey Has Jurisdiction in Guardianship Feud

  • March 6th, 2006

A New Jersey court has ruled that an elderly woman declared incompetent by a Texas court last year is a New Jersey resident, and that questions about her mental capacity and $25 million fortune should be resolved by New Jersey courts.

The plight of Lillian Glasser, 85, has made national headlines (see "Differing State Probate Practices Keep New Jersey Elder in Texas"). Mrs. Glasser, who suffers from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, was placed under Texas guardianship while visiting her daughter there and had been prevented from returning to New Jersey, where she had lived most of her life and owns a home. Mrs. Glasser's son and many of her New Jersey friends contend that she wishes to return to her home in New Jersey.

On March 3, 2006, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County, Chancery Division, issued an opinion asserting that New Jersey had primary jurisdiction in the interstate guardianship dispute.

"Although Mrs. Glasser has some connections with Texas, they simply cannot be equated with her connections of New Jersey," New Jersey judge Alexander Waugh wrote in a 25-page decision.

The matter is not over, however. The Bexar County, Texas, probate court is scheduled to rule on March 7 on a motion to transfer the pending case there to New Jersey. [Update: The Texas court suspended Mrs. Glasser's guardianship case in Texas to allow New Jersey courts to decide the matter.]

Elder law experts say the Glasser case has spotlighted the problem of differing state guardianship laws. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws is attempting to draft national standards on interstate guardianship issues and the Glasser case was widely discussed at the group's recent conference, according to New Jersey ElderLawAnsweers member Shirley B. Whitenack, who represents one of the parties in the Glasser case and attended the conference.

To read an article on the ruling in the Newark Star-Ledger, click here.

To read the New Jersey court's opinion in PDF format, click here. (If you do not have the free PDF reader installed on your computer, download it here.)

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Last Modified: 03/06/2006

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