Friday, June 20, 2014

And The Decision Was....

The big day arrived.  My spouse's petition to gain guardianship of "B", my 50-something brother in law who is developmentally disabled, was heard in Surrogate Court in the New York State county where he lives on Tuesday.

My spouse, his mother (who, although never having been appointed guardian, had cared for "B"'s affairs all her life - except now she's in her mid 80's and has increasing mobility, health, and other issues), my sister in law, were present.  Who wasn't? "B".

He wanted to go to work. 

This, again, applies only in New York State, and guardianship in your state (or country) may differ.  Here, what we filed for was for something called an Article 17A guardianship.  It was up to us to prove that "B" needed this guardianship, which we did through material submitted with the petition. 

The law itself (noting I am not a lawyer, only a layperson) is quite an eyeful to read and wade through.  We needed to prove through evidence provided by people qualified to give this that "B" had a developmental disability called autism and that his disability began before age 22. We needed to show that "B" could not make his own "autonomous" decisions.

In New York, it is important to note, a guardian is an advocate for the disabled person. To use the terminology my then teen son would have used some years ago, "it doesn't make you the boss of him."

There is nothing like being in court for feeling small and intimidated.  That's how I felt, anyway, as we filed into the courtroom. 

The judge asked us all to sit upfront, and asked each of us to identify ourselves.

The Surrogate Court had appointed someone called a guardian ad litem for "B", who represented "B" at the hearing That local attorney had met with both my mother in law and "B"earlier this year. He told the judge he had personally spoken to "B" and thought the petition should be granted. Our attorney attended the hearing by phone, which I was most grateful for the judge permitting, because it would have been costly to have an attorney there in person.

The judge was concerned with my mother in law's renunciation of her rights, although she never filed for formal guardianship ever, because there was missing paperwork she had needed to file. I suspect it came when she was undergoing her cancer surgeries earlier this year and it just got lost in the shuffle. So he asked her if she was indeed wiling to do this, and her "yes" was strong.  The judge asked for the completed paperwork for filing.

The judge asked a few other questions, including if we had any questions.  I think all of us were afraid to ask anything, in fear perhaps that saying the wrong thing might jeopardize the petition.

Well....the guardianship should be finalized in about two weeks.  (Big "whew")

Once this is granted, my spouse can make care decisions, financial decisions, and other decisions on behalf of "B".

Although he didn't realize it on Tuesday,  "B" now has protections under the law if something happens to his mother, as I've blogged about previously.

I know, for my spouse, this is only the beginning, and, of course, we have no idea what the future has in store for us - or for "B".

But now, although he isn't fully aware of it, he (we hope) "B" has a more secure future.


  1. Congratulations, so glad you and your husband are able to do this for his brother.

  2. Being a caretaker is a 24/7/365 job....I respect the courage needed to step up and do this.

  3. Bless your hearts. You've been through a lot. Your brother in law is so blessed to have you all care so much about him.

  4. What a long procedure to go through. I guess the law needs to be involved because of potential abuse, but in the old days, family looked after their own. I'm glad you're closer to completion.

  5. Gosh, your brother in law is so fortunate to have your fantastic support/ care!

  6. I'm glad this worked out for you and "B".


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